The real estate duo of William and Simmie Moore formed in Canada in the late '70s. William went up there from Kentucky to get his Ph.D., and met Simmie in college. The two have been partners in business, and in life, ever since.
They currently manage Aiken Luxury Rentals, which operates 11 properties, according to the business' website.
One of these properties is Kershaw Square, a part of downtown Aiken since the late 19th century.
They obtained these eight cottages in November of 2011 with the goal to keep their histories intact but add modern touches.
“We thought that there's ... a business need in Aiken (to) capture the spirit of old Aiken, that has a historical feel, that also would provide modern mechanicals.”
This past January, the Moores' hard work on Kershaw Square was recognized, when the Historic Aiken Foundation presented them the President's Award.
“That was pretty neat,” William said. “We were really happy we won that. It was kind of an honor ... It was a recognition for this neighborhood and these buildings.”
Kershaw Square is located on the corner of Kershaw Street and Staubes Lane.
Each cottage is named after plants around it: Jasmine Cottage, Sweet Bay Cottage, Foxglove Cottage, Wisteria Cottage, Sparkleberry Cottage, Crepe Myrtle Cottage, Camellia Cottage and Tea Olive Cottage.
“I try to make every place, in a sense, totally unique, with a different mixture of stuff,” William said. “Some things are pretty consistent, but each house (ultimately) is different.”
Some of the houses are one bedroom, one bathroom; others are two bedrooms, two baths.
In the guest's bedroom, a bay window or a grand bed with a full-metal post around it could be waiting, such as in the Tea Olive Cottage and the Crape myrtle Cottage, respectfully.
A tiled up-fireplace is seen in all the houses. However, in Sweet-Bay Cottage, an open, wide fireplace sits in the center of the living room, adding a different touch to this house. The fireplaces are blocked off, because, when they worked, they burned off gas. The Moores felt this unsafe, so they chose to keep the fireplaces but made them unusable.
When guests look up, they will notice William and Simmie even took the time to vary the lighting fixtures throughout each house, mixing vintage with modern, according to William.
William even went one extra step to invest in fine, “very expensive,” door hardware. Hands will come in contact with crystal, sandcast, bronze and a couple other types of doorknobs as people walk through the houses.
“All the little stuff like that, I think people appreciate,” William said.
Other additions to the houses are a fully-applianced kitchen, a tiled bathroom, a washer and dryer set and a heating and air system.
Safety is important to the Moores. An ADT security system is in place for each home, and William stressed the many number of lights within and outside the cottages.
“I wanted to make sure these properties were exceptionally well-lit.”
The Moores have put in their touches, but history still has stayed within the houses.
“They all have the original (wood) paneling,” William said.
And, they were all a complete surprise to the Moores.
William explained the wood was hidden under piles of newspaper – which the much older residents of the houses used for insulation – and plywood. Once all those layers were removed, his wife and he had to clean the wood thoroughly, sanding a lot of it down, and pile several layers of Danish, or wood, oil onto top of it. According to William, this whole process does no damage to the wood, just helps maintains it.
The wooden walls stop at the new rooflines. Due to the shoddy state of the houses, many of the ceilings had to be raised within the houses.
And, William couldn't help but add his own historical touch to his creations.
Outside the houses are curved-handled, green light fixtures. These “artifacts” came from an old railroad station in Pennsylvania.
“It's something I'm proud of, spend some time on,” William said.
William also referred to the Kershaw Square cottages as railroad cottages and mentioned the Aiken Railroad Depot was only a couple blocks away.
Before they could finish putting the final trimmings on the cottages, people were calling and requesting to rent them, William said.
Now, people, namely women, come from all over – Canada, England, Ireland – to stay at Kershaw Square, according to William.
One pleased current resident said to William one day that he really likes the cottage.
“He's told me that when he moves, 'I want to take this house with me,'” William said.
To see more about Kershaw Square or Aiken Luxury Rentals, visit www.aikenluxuryrentals.com.