Renovations have started at the historic Anchorage House, a home built in about 1770 that has sat vacant for several years.
New owners Amy and Frank Lesesne purchased the house at 1103 Bay St. this spring and intend to renovate and reopen it as Anchorage 1770, an inn with 13 suites and a two-bedroom cottage, Amy Lesesne said.
Work has started in the basement, and the couple had an open house Tuesday attended by about 160 people.
"What we love about the Anchorage House is everyone -- and we heard a lot of this at the party the other night -- everyone who has grown up in Beaufort or lived here a long time has a story here," Amy Lesesne said.
The next step is to install an interior elevator. Renovations are difficult because the Anchorage House has a large, old tabby foundation, she said. Tabby is a fragile and historically significant material made from mixing oyster shells, lime and sand.
"Our renovation crews know this is not your typical renovation," Amy Lesesne said.
The couple hope to open the inn in December. They intend to throw a big open-house party, during which people can look around even if they are not renting a room, Amy Lesesne said.
Also known as the William Elliott House, it has been a private home, a Civil War hospital, the private Ribaut Club, and more recently, an inn and restaurant. Before the Civil War, it was occupied by William Elliott III, a well-known cotton planter, author, politician and poet.
In 1971, the building was set for demolition, but the Historic Beaufort Foundation saved it by orchestrating a sale to a private owner, who signed restrictive easements that remain in place.
Its most recognizable name, the Anchorage, pays homage to owner Rear Adm. Lester Anthony Beardsley, who did extensive remodeling inside and out in the late 1800s and filled the home with rare objects.
Amy Lesesne said it has another, lesser-known name, that she loves, "Queen of the Bay," after its prominent location along the water.
"We want to take the Queen of the Bay and turn it into what it should be," she said.
In other changes about town:
Owner Rhonda Jordan opened the fabric and craft store in spring 2012. The last day downtown was June 27, and the first day in the new location will be July 14, she said.
Jordan intends to use the new location as a craft studio and to expand her class offerings. Most of the retail business will be online, although she intends to have some retail hours at the studio.
More information, classes and hours will be announced on the store's Facebook page.
As of Thursday, 55 of 65 new streetlights had been installed, and another five are expected to be placed by July 11 on Carteret Street, between Bay and Port Republic streets.
New traffic signal mast arms at intersections along Charles Street are between 60 and 85 percent complete. Contractor Walker Brothers will return next week to complete installation and clean up the site, according to the city.
Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.