Woodlands Mansion at Dusk

The Woodlands Mansion in Summerville, originally built in 1906, is going on the market. Provided/Tom Limehouse. 

The Woodlands Mansion, an 11-acre Summerville estate that helped elevate the standards for accommodations in South Carolina, is hitting the market. 

Asking price: $6.95 million.

The privately owned event venue and inn formerly was operated as the Woodlands Resort and Inn, the first luxury lodging in the state to earn the highest ratings from two influential travel publications.

Originally built in 1906, the Georgian Revival-style house was designed by architect Frank P. Milburn, whose other works include the Gibbes Museum of Art in downtown Charleston.

The 18-bedroom mansion on Parsons Road spans over 25,000 square feet, and the grounds include a 4,000-square-foot pavilion area. Other amenities include two formal dining rooms, a board room, a private bar and a swimming pool. 

The property is expected to be listed as early as this week by David Smoak of Smoak and Associates. He said the firm plans to advertise it nationally and internationally, to both residential and commercial buyers.

The current owner, former state legislator Tom Limehouse, bought the property in 2012 for $980,000 from Salamander Hotels and Resorts, according to Dorchester County land records.

Salamander, which now manages the soon-to-open Hotel Bennett in downtown Charleston, had operated the posh Flowertown inn and restaurant for about for six years starting in 2006 before selling it for more than $2 million to Summerville Inns of Grandeur LLC.

After that group ran into financial trouble, Salamander re-acquired the Woodlands and sold it to Limehouse several months later.

Limehouse said he feels the "time is right" to put the property up for sale. Ideally, he would like to see the mansion and grounds used as a public building and park, he said, but, more than use, finding the right owner is his top priority. 

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"This is a property where you feel more like a trustee than an owner," he said. 

Over his six years of ownership, Limehouse focused on preserving the property, which he said is representative of Summerville's history as the "Kiawah Island of the day," drawing wealthy Northerners to build second homes. The main house at the Woodlands first served as a winter home for Pennsylvania railroad baron Robert Parsons. 

The property wasn't converted into an lodging until 1986, when it opened as the Gadsden Manor Inn, only to close a few years later.

The major renovations made by New Yorker Joe Whitmore in the early 1990s elevated Woodlands to luxury status. It was the first property in South Carolina to earn both the Forbes Five Star and AAA Five Diamond travel ratings.

Woodlands Mansion will continue to host events and overnight guests, Limehouse said, but it will not accept new bookings past May 1.

Reach Emily Williams at 843-937-5553. Follow her on Twitter @emilye_williams.

Emily Williams is a business reporter at The Post and Courier, covering tourism and employment. She also writes the Business Headlines newsletter, which is published twice a week. Before moving to Charleston, her byline appeared in The Boston Globe.