10 Questions with Susan Rae Epstein, Fall Tours Manager at The Preservation Society of Charleston
We ask the same 10 questions to very different members of Charleston’s diverse community. This week, meet Susan Rae Epstein, fall tours manager at the Preservation Society of Charleston.
1. If you’re not from Charleston originally, where are you from and when did you relocate here?
I am not a Charlestonian but my mother is. I grew up in Spartanburg in a small community called Boiling Springs. I attended 1st through 12th grade there and then went away to Clemson University, where I earned a degree in Plant Sciences / Horticulture in 1979. After graduation, I married my college sweetheart and we moved to Charleston. Since my mother was from Charleston, I still had a lot of family here so it was like coming home. We moved into a house on Wappoo Drive in Riverland Terrace and from there to Rockville. After I became pregnant, we moved back to Riverland Terrace and then West Ashley, where we live now.
2. Did you go to college, and if so, where?
3. Occupation, employer, and what your role entails?
I work as the Tours Manager for the Preservation Society of Charleston. My primary job responsibility is to organize the Fall Tours for PSC, which is our biggest annual fundraiser. Other responsibilities include organizing smaller and more focused private tours for organizations or clubs as well as helping out wherever I can.
4. How does your company and/or your role affect the community.
One of the primary goals of the Fall Tours is to enlighten and educate our guests about the history, architecture, and the preservation of Charleston. As the oldest member-based preservation organization, it is our mission and our duty.
5. Favorite part of your job?
The favorite part of my job is to be an ambassador for Charleston in many ways. In one regard, I represent the homeowners and it is an honor to meet them, be able to visit and hear the wonderful stories of these houses. The homeowners of Charleston are very gracious and generous stewards. They understand preservation and what it takes to care for the houses but also the city. The Monday following Hurricane Matthew, we were checking in with the owners to inquire if they were able to include their property on the upcoming tours and out of 90 properties, we only lost 4 due to damage. That says a lot about the dedication and commitment they make. It is also a privilege to work with the more than 300 volunteers it takes to run the Fall Tours. We are so very grateful to them and the many hours they give to make the tours a success. Plus the time they take to learn the history of the houses, neighborhoods, and the city. Last, I want the guest to have the best experience ever and want to return.
6. What area of Charleston do you live in and why do you love it?
West Ashley. My husband, David, and I are fortunate in that we have an older property but not as old as most on the peninsula. Our house was built in 1934 and we have 2 acres with most of it being cultivated as a large ornamental garden. I can be anywhere in a matter of minutes and am spoiled with my short commute into town.
7. Who’s your most-loved local venue/cultural excursion and why?
As far as my favorite local excursion, it is probably anywhere I can ride my bike. Whether it is the Coastal Cyclist Saturday James Island to Folly Beach ride, ride around the peninsula, or over to Mt. Pleasant, I love it. We are not even close but one day, Charleston will be a world-class cycling city!
8. What’s your go-to local dining or takeout spot, and what do you like to order?
I am a creature of habit and love Cobb salads. My favorite is from Fleet Landing. The view is fabulous as well.
9. Favorite Charleston day-trip destination?
My favorite day trip right now is Brookgreen Gardens at Murrell’s Inlet. I love the rich horticultural history of the plantations as well as the beautiful love story of Anna Hyatt Huntington and Archer Huntington. They did so much to preserve Brookgreen, support the arts at a difficult time, and care and educate the people who worked for the plantation. The plantings are of great interest anytime of the year and the sculpture collection is one of the best in the country, if not world.
10. If you could live anywhere in the world other than the Lowcountry, where would that be?
If I could live anywhere in the world, I wouldn’t go too far. My family and friends are all here or in the Southeast. I am a mountain girl at heart and would love to live part time at Lake Lure. I spent so much time there as a child plus we took family vacations there are our children were growing up.