P1090517Alligators, about four feet long, Hmm, maybe six feet for this one, with heads at least a third of their bodies, hang out on the edge of the waterways. They lay on the grassy lagoons basking in the sunlight. Tom and I were strolling by, shocked to see alligators in this place that is supposed to be a hotel/Inn on the bluffs of the Ashley River in South Carolina. I began to walk closer to get a good picture, but I felt a hand on my arm pull me back. “You don’t want to get too close, do you?” asked my hubby Tom. But as I persevered, the alligator picked up his head, and I jumped back. But like lightening, it was gone as it dropped into the water. They didn’t seem as though they were interested in eating us, or anyone else for that matter. At least no one has gone missing . . . yet. P1090166

On the bluffs of the Ashley River, The Inn at Middleton Place, is nestled amongst old pines and centuries old oak trees, trees that are at least eight-hundred years old, with a girth of thirty-three feet, and steps away from the country’s oldest landscaped gardens. It was like being in summer camp, in the South, where alligators prevail. A camp like no other I remember. There are no paved roads or walkways. What appears to be a dense forest at the edge of the river, climbs up to level walkway, I guess that would be called the bluffs.

Middleton-Place-Hotel-Exterior-2-DEFThe organization of the architecture is most unusual in its boxy appearance created by the tall walls of windows, divided by bold, dark grids in each bank of buildings. The buildings appear to be tall boxes juxtaposed to each other. I think the idea was to create an environment of informal elegance.

In the interior, the floor to ceiling windows bring into every room views of the pastoral woodland setting sweeping views over the meandering Ashley River, where the rice plantation culture, not the cotton culture that prevailed in the South, flourished more than 200 years ago. P1090235

P1090545 P1090457 P1090435The stable yard is fascinating. It’s filled with ducks, white geese, peacocks, chickens, roosters, milking cows and horses of all sorts. And soaking in a water pond, two water buffalo, one white, one black, hang out. They follow you with their eyes as you walk by and appear very serious about soaking in the pond. If you happen to be around the stables when they feed the chickens, all the birds come running. It’s hilarious to watch the feathered fellows gather and squawk within their clans, and push their way in to get their share.


The inn is on the property of the Middleton family’s 18th century plantation and is about thirteen miles northwest of Charleston. It feels very secluded, but just outside the property is busy US 61 with  several condominium neighborhoods and the Magnolia Plantation just up the road. People from the wintery North are moving  to the sunny South to escape the harsh winters. Hmm, tempting.


Middleton Place was established in 1741.  Four generations of Middletons’ occupied the estate. Days after the fall of Charleston in 1865, the Main House and flanking buildings were ransacked and burned by a detachment of the 56th New York Regiment on February 22nd. The ground was strewn with books, paintings and other family treasures. William Middleton restored the South Flanker. What was left of the Main House and North Flanker toppled in the Earthquake of 1886.

middleton oak closeup with museumThe restored South Flanker survived and is a museum today. Middleton Place is a National Historic Landmark and home to America’s Oldest Landscaped Gardens visited by thousands.

According to the words of the ads, the inn offers guests a unique, hands on approach to experiencing the LowCountry of South Carolina. This secluded inn is the perfect place to reconnect with nature and history while being a short drive from the culture and beauty of historic Charleston. Ground tours include the Middleton Place Gardens, house Museum, and stable yards.

Rice Fields as they were in the 19th century

Rice Fields as they were in the 19th century

P1090251Within this luscious landscape, a five-star restaurant resides. We did indulge, why not? We were a captive audience, and who doesn’t enjoy good food? And drink of course. Plenty of wine choices and beverages of all kinds. Have you ever heard of a Bloody Mary and “sweep the kitchen”? It’s spiced tomato juice with veggies, and liquor of your choice or not.P1090232 P1090222 P1090733 P1090684 P1090172

Why not visit? Wouldn’t this place make a fascinating setting for your next book? Especially you history buffs?

Scroll down for a picture show.

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Can you see the alligator near the water?

Can you see the alligator near the water?P1090607



Everywhere you go in Phoenix, you will find no snow on the ground. For snow you have to go to the mountains. Choices, it’s good to have choices. Do you snow ski?

But oh, the sand. It is the desert after all. Sand underfoot, sand in your shoes, sand in your car. And when there are sandstorms it gets in your mouth, your eyes, your hair, everywhere. I love the tepid temperatures of sandy Phoenix, and the thorny plants, the florals, the cactus. It is beautifulP1080010P1080015.

There is a wonderful zoo and the botanical gardens to visit where Chihuly art glass abounds. It would be good to spend those few months of the snowy East in Phoenix.P1080052

Look for more next week.

Have you been to the desert? Have you been to Phoenix?



Habitat ’67 – Moshe Safdie

Moshe Safdie received an invitation from me to speak to my students studying design in the early 80’s. Due to time restraints, he wrote a lovely letter of refusal. One of my constituents and good friend asked me to do a blog about Mr. Safdie. It is my pleasure to accept her invitation to write about a favorite architect.
The design, “Habitat 67” was an early invention of Mr. Safdie. Multifamily concrete stacked modular units, it was a study in people placement and the practical use of space. He designed the buildings in 1967 for the Montreal Exposition. Although, someone I know who visited the Exposition, experienced the architecture and found it “cold.” Still it was an excellent example of industrially produced modular housing. The design showcased construction techniques unheard of at the time.
In March, 2009, Habitat 67 received the classification of a historic monument.

According to “e-architect”, Habitat 67 began life as a master’s thesis project prepared in 1961 by Mr. Safdie, then an architecture student at McGill University. He came up with the idea of a high density apartment building that would provide residents with privacy as well as peace and quiet. He was invited to develop his idea for Expo 67 and did so alongside engineer August E. Komendant. By the time the universal exhibition came round, the project was partially completed, and 26 apartments were reserved for the Expo. The housing complex had 354 prefabricated units, initially forming 158 one or two story apartments with one to four bedrooms. The apartments were divided into three pyramids.  Each apartment featured a landscaped garden built on the roof of the level below. Follow the link to check out this exciting property.  Waterfront property and tennis courts.

Mr Safdie established his architectural practice in 1964  in Montreal to design and supervise the construction of Habitat 67. Today the principal office is in Boston, Massachusetts with branch offices in Jerusalem, Toronto, and Singapore. The international practice provides a full range of urban planning, architectural and interior design services. Activities range from the design of public institutions-including museums, performing arts centers, libraries, and university campuses-to the design of airports. housing, mixed-use complexes, and new communities.

Below is a sample of his current innovative work.

Marina Bay Sands Moshe Safdie, Singapore


Luxury hotel, Marina Bay Sands recently opened the doors of its microcosm to the public and has already wowed tourists with its unique and luxurious design. Up at the top, a pool for your swimming pleasure.

The Marina Bay Sands hotel is located in Singapore has been designed with one goal in mind, to be the leading business, leisure and entertainment destination in Asia. It holds the title of the most expensive hotel built till this day, as its investment by the Las Vegas Sands Corporation reaches $5 billion. The Marina Bay Sands hotel is a mixed-use integrated resort with 2,560-rooms, three 55-storey towers, a 150-meters infinity pool on top of the towers, an indoor canal, a museum shaped like a lotus flower, the best shopping mall in Asia and world-class celebrity chef restaurants.  Furthermore, it includes theatres, an outdoor event plaza, a convention center and a casino with private gaming rooms for premium players.

If you wanted apartment living, waterfront, with all the luxuries and amenities, would Habitat interest you? Or do you prefer the kind of living that affords more privacy?

Happy Thanksgiving and many blessings to you all. I will be back in two weeks.



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