‘Big Chill’ house renovations underway

The Tidalholm house at 1 Laurens St. in Beaufort was used for filming of the movies “The Big Chill” and “The Great Santini.”
The Tidalholm house at 1 Laurens St. in Beaufort was used for filming of the movies “The Big Chill” and “The Great Santini.”

Following its recent sale for $1.76 million, restoration has already started on the historic Tidalholm property in Beaufort, famous as the setting of “The Big Chill” and “The Great Santini.”

Minor work, such as removing overgrown trees, started in recent days on the property purchased by John C. Tashjian, a New York City developer, said Beekman Webb, a Beaufort construction contractor hired to renovate the home.

Webb said more extensive renovations of the home built in 1853 will begin in May and are likely to take about a year. He said, once complete, Tashjian plans to live in the home part-time, while also allowing community nonprofits to use the property when he is away.

The 7,400-square-foot house sits on an acre of property along the Beaufort River in “The Point” neighborhood and was first listed in 2013 for $4.5 million.

Catherine Donaldson, with Celia Dunn Sotheby’s International Realty, was a co-listing agent for the property when it first went up for sale. She said Saturday she was no longer involved with the property but had some insight about its past.

“It was listed too high early on,” Donaldson said. “The seller was adamant about the price, but the home should have sold about where it did due to the incredible amount of work that was needed. It had sat for a really long time.”

Webb agreed that there is plenty to do on the home first built by Edgar Fripp, a plantation owner.

“The plumbing has never been updated since the 1920s,” Webb said. “The electrical systems have been piecemealed but never totally redone, and the heat and air was installed maybe 40 years ago.”

Several additions built throughout the years will be removed from the back of the home, Webb said. He said an addition architecturally designed to match the house will replace the ones removed. The front of the home will remain the same, he said.

The home has been updated many times, including the addition of an upstairs deck following a hurricane in 1893, Webb said.

Edward S. Dukes, a Lowcountry Real Estate managing partner who was the listing agent for the home, said it is a tourist attraction because of the beauty of the property, its historic status and its Hollywood connections.

“People are constantly trying to take a look at it by leaning over the fences,” Dukes said.

For Webb, the house has more of a sentimental meaning. He grew up several houses away.

“When I was a child on The Point, there were a lot of kids,” said Webb, 69. “It was a residential area of town, and we had the run of the neighborhood as the kids. We played in everybody’s yard and everywhere.”

The Tidalholm house served as an inn between the 1930s and 1970s, Webb said.

“We called it the tourist house back then,” he said.

Webb spent his life restoring homes in the neighborhood but sold his business, Beekman Webb Construction Co., and retired several years ago, he said. This project brought him out of retirement.

“I can’t turn down an opportunity like this one,” Webb said. “It is a privilege to be able to do it. It is an interesting project, and I am very exciting about the prospect of it — and most people working there are.”

Interior designer Steven Gambrel has been hired, along with Beaufort architect Robert Montgomery, according to a statement released by Tashjian. The statement says he is committed to restoring the home so that it can be enjoyed by future generations.

“We feel confident that we sold it to the right buyer,” Dukes said. “They understand old house restoration, and we are looking forward to seeing what he does. He has put together a good team.”

Tidalholm at a glance

▪  7,400-square-foot house sits on an acre of property at 1 Laurens St. in Beaufort

▪  Had an initial asking price of $4.5 million in 2013; sold for $1.76 million

▪  Includes 7 bedrooms and 7 full bathrooms

▪  Used in the filming of “The Big Chill” and “The Great Santini”

▪  Restoration work expected to take about a year