Fond memories live inside The Deer Tongue Building

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Fond memories live inside The Deer Tongue Building

Published Tuesday, February 19, 2013   |  627 Words  |  

Pepper's Porch on May River Road is in a building called "The Deer Tongue Building." Deer tongue is a native plant that grows in the woods and along the roads in Bluffton. In the spring you can see tall spiky stalks that have purple flowers blooming on the top. Deer tongue leaves are wide, somewhat fuzzy and grow around the base of the plant. The leaves have a very pleasant smell when dried.

At the turn of the 20th century, a botanist named Dr. Joseph Mellinchamp discovered that deer tongue could be used for medicinal purposes. It was also used in perfumes and in tobacco products. Prince Edward tobacco, which used to come in little red tins, contained the plant.

The Deer Tongue Building used to be across from my store, where the Dispensary is now located. In 1983 or so, Joel Bailey bought the building and moved it to his property, where it is now. For several years, Joel had an artists' co-op there and sold all kinds of handmade goods.

I have always loved the building and the surrounding property. One day I found it was for sale. Laura and Jim McIntosh and Don and I bought the building and the house next door from Joel.

Laura, Jenny Kelly -- who at the time was a kindergarten teacher at the old M.C. Riley school -- and I opened a business called Deer Tongue Trading, where we sold antiques and art. We had a great time and loved every minute. Eventually, Laura and Jim wanted to move to the mountains, and Jenny became busier than ever, so we decided to sell. It was a difficult decision for me because I had always had a "thing" for the spot and both of the buildings on the property.

Roberts Vaux decided he would like to open an office in Bluffton, so he bought the buildings. He and his family renovated the Deer Tongue Building and opened a restaurant in it. Roberts was awarded the BHPS Caldwell Award in 1999 for its adaptive use. He did a wonderful job. Funny, you can still smell the Deer Tongue that was dried and packed in it so many years ago.

* You simply must go see "Annie," now playing at The May River Theater. It runs through Sunday. It was the last production the late, great Jodie Dupuis had a hand in. She would be so proud of all of the cast members. You will recognize many of the players on stage. Details: 843-815-5581.

  • The Bluffton Rotary Club is accepting applications for the Bluffton Village Festival. The festival is always Mother's Day weekend, and this year it will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 11.
  • Registration begins March 8. Go to, and click on the "forms" tab. Details: 843-815-2277

    * We celebrated the engagement of Lori Brown and Peter Kraft on Valentine's Day at Vineyard 55. My friend Kurtis Rivers and his jazz trio did a fabulous job entertaining the guests. Lori and Peter are very much in love, and we wish them lots of happiness as they plan their new life together.

  • Carolinas' Got Art -- both North and South -- is seeking artists to enter their competition. The contest is open to all artists and in all mediums. The annual event offers $15,000 in cash and prizes. The entry fee is $35. All entries must be received by March 15. Details: