The structure at the northwest curve of Mary Murray Boulevard hasn't been an essential component of Charleston dining for more than a century, but it's a building familiar to Hampton Park runners, joggers and strollers. It now serves as an office for the city's parks department
In 1901, though, the restaurant it housed was considered "one of those places ... everybody must eat at one time or another" by The News and Courier. The Wayside Inn was one of the primary restaurants at the South Carolina Inter-State and West Indian Exposition, a regional fair that ran from December 1901 until June 1902.
According to the story provided by Kevin Eberle, author of "A History of Charleston's Hampton Park," restaurant owner Emma Brinton served up "old-fashioned cooking such as every one likes, even though it may be more fashionable to talk about French cooks."
"Visitors to the restaurant could go there to avoid having to return all the way back home for a meal," Eberle says. "Trolley lines in those days would have taken 30 minutes or so to get back and forth, so it was convenient."
The restaurant also was referred to as The Colonial Farm House. So far as Eberle knows, no menus survive.
Yet the building outlasted the Expo's popcorn and peanut booths, and every other structure erected for the event, which drew Theodore Roosevelt and more than half a million visitors (a tally which disappointed organizers): The former Wayside Inn is the only Expo structure still standing.