If you think the “Lin” in the Linwood Inn has anything to do with owner Linda Shelbourne, you’re wrong.
“I get asked that. It’s a little embarrassing,” she says with a laugh.
Linwood Inn already had its name when Linda and her husband, Peter, bought the Summerville estate. Built in 1883, it had been the home of Julia Drayton Hastie, heiress to Magnolia on the Ashley Plantation.
Under the Shelbournes, Linwood Inn spent 20 years as a bed and breakfast and is now morphing into a place for short- and long-term rentals and a haven for those coming to town to do good works.
After meeting and marrying in England, the Shelbournes eventually found themselves in New Jersey, where Peter toiled at an investment firm. One day, he came home and told Linda, “I’ve been fired, praise the Lord.”
The termination came with six months of pay and a car. Peter had always romanticized the South, and when he saw an ad in the Wall Street Journal for an old five-and-dime on what was then a wild and woolly upper King Street, the Shebournes moved to Charleston.
Linda had some misgivings about living in the South. “I was too tall, too serious. I didn’t think I’d ever fit in,” she says.
By then, they had three sons and, when they saw Linwood in 1979 on just under two acres that included three outbuildings that could be rented to help defray the cost, they snatched up the property with a $17,000 down payment. After the boys grew up and moved out, the Shelbournes wanted to fill the rooms of the elevated Victorian with life again.
They renovated, keeping their beloved antiques but updating the three cottages and adding additional bathrooms to make the boys’ rooms guest suites. In 1995, Linwood Inn opened as a bed and breakfast and the rooms were brightened with flowers from master gardener Linda’s gardens, a certification she picked up after Hurricane Hugo devastated the grounds.
Even now, wedding parties and horticultural and history tours are conducted among the bright blooms.
As years passed, Linda and Peter found that running a bed and breakfast was becoming more difficult.
“It’s morphed into more bed and less breakfast in the main house as we’ve gotten older,” Linda says. “We can’t stop having people because that’s who we are, but we can cut down on what we do.”
Guests now can make their own light breakfast-like cereals, coffees with “really good bread and jams,” she says.
The inn attracts snowbirds, people relocating to Charleston, Boeing and other employees on assignment, and Europeans who have made a tradition of staying on their way to other destinations like Disney World.
“One time, the guy who took down the Cooper River Bridge stayed here 14 months,” Linda recalls.
One type of guest that has become increasingly meaningful for the Shelbournes is travelers in town to do good works, such as helping out a charity or church. They stay free.
“We just ask them for a donation to the Water Mission, Watchmen International or another charity,” she says.