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Yankee restores grande dame

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By The Staff

 

  If you were under the veranda at the Craig Farm house during the May 20 Business After Hours or at the May 23 Vivian Major Robinson Concert, you got a good glimpse of history. The rolling pasture behind the stately home holds numerous stories of our county’s past. And just across Craig Farm Road is another grande dame of Lancaster County history. That’s where Kilburnie, the Inn at Craig Farm, sits – proud, dignified and graceful. But she wasn’t always that way. Prior to her move to the Craig Farm Road location, the two-story structure sat decaying on White Street. The once-vibrant Southern lady seemed doomed to the same fate as so many other historical structures in Lancaster. It is not that people didn’t care. Many did and even made attempts to save her. Historians and preservationists were fully aware of her historical value. But the enormous task and money needed to restore her just were not there. Then a Yankee came to town and fell in love with her. Not too long after that, the crippled lady wobbled north onto Main Street, S.C. 200, Craig Manor (where she almost fell) and then to her new home on Craig Farm Road. It was there that the Yankee, New York resident Johannes Tromp, and John “Eddie” Craig went about the task of restoring the grande dame.  She was restored with careful attention to detail. With the help of Lindsey Pettus and the Lancaster Historical Society, Tromp immersed himself in learning about his new adoptive home.  That was 10 years ago. Today she is as elegant or even more so than when she welcomed family and friends at her White Street  location. She is a fine bed and breakfast that has been featured in numerous publications, including Southern Living and The Sandlapper. She has hosted numerous events, weddings and other social functions. She plays a vital role in economic recruitment and often hosts business meetings for companies throughout the nation.  Lancaster County Administrator Steve Willis refers to Kilburnie as a “virtual economic engine.”   Dr. John Catalano, dean of The University of South Carolina at Lancaster and Sam Courtney, director of the Lancaster County Council of the Arts, also give accolades for the cultural events held at Kilburnie. “Kilburnie has put Lancaster on the map with its superb hospitality,” said Charlie Bundy, Lancaster resident and former director of S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism. “I feel it could be a role model for other South Carolina towns who think they don’t have many tourism attractions. My hat’s off to Eddie and Johannes for giving us a genuine asset to our community.” We echo those sentiments. We cannot express how glad we are that visionaries Tromp and Craig rescued the lady from the wrecking ball. We are glad the Yankee fell in love with the Southern lady. “Love affair is a strange phrase to use when describing a house, but I am truly in love with it,” Tromp said. “For me, it has become a seven-day-a-week, 50-week year labor of love.  “I am where I want to be, doing what I want to be doing.” And the grande dame is proof.