Culture // 5 min Read

History of Hospitality

Written by Grubbs

Jan 17, 2019

Centered around history, etiquette, gatherings and some sort of delicious Southern food, hospitality at Palmetto Bluff thrives. From the Wilson Era to the Union Camp era, and now present day, each period of the Bluff offers a multitude of tales that build its sense of place and reinforces the dedication to welcoming friends, family, and guests. With so many stories, we have highlighted some of the most exciting anecdotes from each era that will not only unveil the rich history of hospitality Palmetto Bluff has always offered, but also the fun had while making it.

The Wilson Era: The Party Queen, Mrs. Wilson

In 1902, Richard T. Wilson, a wealthy New York Banker, purchased Palmetto Bluff and began construction on a four-story grand mansion to be finished in 1910. His wife, Marion Wilson, was a New York Socialite, with her name always appearing in the newspapers for her lavish parties with exclusive guests and epic entertainment. One newspaper appearance in particular stands out the most with the headline “Mrs. R. T. Wilson Summoned to Court.” After spending most of her winters in Palmetto Bluff, Mrs. Wilson decided to spend the winter of 1921 back home in New York City. During a snowstorm one winter night, Mrs. Wilson hosted an extravagant dinner party with live music. Her neighbors in the apartment below had had enough of her celebrations, calling the police after objecting ‘to the sound of cello and violin after midnight.’ When the policemen arrived and knocked on the door, the music quieted, and Mrs. Wilson opened the door. Being the prime example of a proper hostess, Mrs. Wilson famously invited the two policemen in to the party, creating the perfect gossip material for the New York Times and a textbook instance of how good hospitality should never falter.

The Union Camp Era: The Real Big Carol

Palmetto Bluff’s official food truck, Big Carol, is a staple at events and gatherings around the Bluff serving delectable culinary creations. The true Big Carol, the inspiration behind the food truck name, was the head chef of Union Camp, a hunting retreat in the early 1970’s for clients of the Camp Paper Company. Big Carol was known by the guides and guests alike for her excellent and decadent Southern dishes and “best fried chicken in the world.” Not only was she known for her food, but also her kindness, making sure the not only the guests, but the guides were well-fed and satisfied. With a legacy of great food, hospitality, and dedication to her staff and guests, Big Carol defined what a true Southern-food experience should be.

Present Day: The story behind the Artillery Punch

Known as a deceitful and delicious brew, Montage Palmetto Bluff’s signature cocktail, “Artillery Punch” has been part of the Southern culture for more than two centuries. Brought to Palmetto Bluff by third-generation Savannahian and Montage food and beverage manager, Ross Hardigan, Ross developed the cocktail based on his grandmother’s original recipe. She only gave it up after a lot of cajoling and a few glasses of wine. The origins of the Artillery Punch come from the infamous Chatham Artillery Punch. The Chatham Artillery is one of the oldest military organizations on record in Georgia. In times of celebration, the ladies of the camp would make this this punch and officers of the artillery would sneak in and add a mix of spirits resulting in a memorable brew with one heck of a kick. Taking an original recipe and putting a unique twist on it, Palmetto Bluff’s Artillery Punch gives a nod to its historic past with a modern twist.