In 1963, a young couple engaged to be married visited Greenwood to visit with the bride-to-be’s mother.
Becca Cile Rosenberg, born in the city, was once Lander College’s mascot, and her family owned a clothing and shoe store.
The Savads — Neil and Cecile — hadn’t been back to Greenwood in more than a half-century, until a historically powerful Hurricane Dorian bore down on their Kiawah Island home, convincing them to embark on an unplanned homecoming.
“We really didn’t think about the fact we were evacuees until people started asking us, ‘Why are you here,’” Cecile said Thursday evening at Inn on the Square.
A lot has changed in 56 years.
“First of all, the railroad doesn’t run down the center of Main Street, and we haven’t found the telephone building,” Neil said.
For the fourth consecutive year, Uptown Greenwood’s fashionable hotel has opened its doors to coastal refugees, hoping to offer them a touch of comfort as they grapple with the uncertainty of what the latest hurricane might mean for their homes.
Although they spoke as if they’d been friends for years, the Savads only met Troy and Marilyn Shaver an hour earlier — which would seem impossible to know since Max, the Shavers’ 5-year-old golden retriever, sat next to Cecile and leaned into her for affection.
“This is a lot of fun, under extraordinary circumstances,” Troy Shaver said. Their home on Spring Island, a private waterfront community in Beaufort County, is surrounded by trees, convincing them to seek inland accommodations rather than risk losing power or being cut off from first responders.
At 3 p.m. Thursday, Gov. Henry McMaster lifted evacuation orders for residents in Beaufort, Colleton and Jasper counties, although officials encouraged those who could stay away from home to do so a bit longer.
“Returning residents are encouraged to exercise patience and expect lengthy travel times, blocked roadways or detours back to evacuated areas and are asked not to drive around barricades or use emergency lanes that are needed for first responders,” state officials said in a press release.
Annie and Stuart Lee, of Folly Beach, and her mother, Dorothy Rhodes of Charleston, returned to what Rhodes called “heaven” as they sought a comfortable place to stay out of Dorian’s path.
Annie Lee found Inn on the Square three years ago through an internet search.
“It was total serendipity. We knew nothing about this part of the state,” she said. With visits to Lake Greenwood, Uptown’s shopping and restaurants and an excursion to Ninety Six under their belts, the Lees said they couldn’t wait to come to the Lakelands — and arrived at Inn on the Square at Rhodes’ request.
“We found the most wonderful hotel we’ve ever been to,” she said. “This is our favorite place.”