Originally created 06/14/06

Tearoom once served guests of North Augusta hotel

Having afternoon tea was a practice common in North Augusta when the Hampton Terrace Hotel was a top tourist destination.

Unlike the hotel and the ritual of afternoon tea, however, the former Ruland Tea Room has withstood the test of time.

The 1-story weatherboard structure, which now is a private home, is at the corner of Carolina Avenue and West Arlington Heights.

During its heyday in the early 1900s, guests and golfers staying at Hampton Terrace were frequent visitors at the tearoom, which was run by Emory Platt Ruland.

Paul Harris, who has lived in the house since 1979, said the Rulands lived on Carolina Avenue in a house behind the tearoom.

"After the hotel fire, there was no need for the guests. This eventually became a residence," said Dr. Harris, who is a professor of political science and American government at Augusta State University.

He said the tearoom continued to operate for a number of years after the hotel burned to the ground in 1916.

Dr. Harris, a North Augusta High School graduate, is only the fourth owner of the 101-year-old house, which he bought from his parents.

"The home itself was built by Swiss-German immigrants, so it has that chalet look," Dr. Harris said.

The German influence in North Augusta was not unusual, he said.

"Large numbers of German immigrants came to the United States in the 1850s," he said.

Immigration came to a halt during the Civil War, Dr. Harris said, but picked up again after a depression in Europe in the 1870s.

Most of the immigrants who came to America were business people, not peasants, he said.

Dr. Harris also said that the town of Hamburg, which was in the general vicinity of North Augusta, was founded in 1821 by a German immigrant, Henry Schultz. Hamburg was a thriving river port and trading center for tobacco and cotton until the Augusta Canal and the railroad diverted commerce to Augusta.

"There are homes in Germany that are identical to this same floor plan," said Dr. Harris, who once worked in Germany as a civilian employee for the Army. Dr. Harris said he visited a house in Koenigstein, outside Frankfurt, that is identical to his home.

"We have not done anything to alter the structure," he said. "We haven't made any additions to the home that would upset the integrity of the home."

The house features diamond-paned, single-sash windows, original hardwood floors and a now-enclosed porch that was built in 1916.

In the early 20th century, Dr. Harris said, the windows in the upper level were opened to allow a cross breeze into the rooms where guests enjoyed their tea.

Apparently, tea was not the only beverage served. A removable stair to one of the second-story bedrooms reveals a cache where liquor was hidden during Prohibition.

"We're always finding old things in here. The plumbing in this house is 100 years old, and it's working wonderfully," said Dr. Harris.

He also said the heart pine found throughout the house is original.

"It was all milled on site. It was felled here," he said.

Reach Betsy Gilliland at (803) 648-1395 or betsy.gilliland@augustachronicle.com.


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