Interview: Jane Beattie Shepherd

How long have you been living in Charleston and why did you decide to settle in this city?

I was born and raised here, then spent 4 years in Virginia during college. I decided to return for a few years after graduation before going to a larger city, and found that Charleston really did have a lot to offer – arts, music, culture as well as outdoor sports. Because Charleston is a capitol city, we have cultural opportunities that other cities this size rarely have. And because of our geography, you can live in the woods and be able to walk to the center of town in twenty minutes

How do you find the general vibe in Charleston?

The vibe comes from the people, and they tend to be friendly and nurturing. This is a good place to follow your dreams, raise children and to grow a business because the people are so encouraging.

Which season is Charleston at it’s best?

Definitely spring. In February, the daffodils are peeking up and reminding me that longer, warmer days are coming. I love the service berry trees that bloom on the ridge about the South Side Bridge, and the flowering crabapples along the river bank. And there is that promise of all the fun that warm weather brings – concerts on the levee, tennis, hikes in Kanawha State Forest, cookouts, kayaking, golf.

What do you think is Charleston’s biggest attraction?

The people. Charlestonians are quick to give to their community and to each other. It is an easy city in which to become involved with others through volunteer work like docenting at the Clay Center, Habitat for Humanity, or even the new Guerilla Gardener Group. It is also a very open, accepting city. It is not unusual for my customers who are new in town to find their photos in the newspaper as they enjoy events like Festivall or to tell me they “just met the governor!” Everything is just very accessible here.

How would you describe Charleston to someone who hasn’t been here before?

I’d start with “Hey, can you keep a secret?”

What are your top 5 dining places in Charleston?

I have a soft spot for the new, fun restaurants near my office in the Bridge Road area because they feed me often and well. The South Hills Market and Cafe has some great gourmet sandwiches and breakfasts. Lola’s Pizza is a funky little house with “nouveau” pizza topped with thing like goat cheese and spinach. We can take our dogs and sit outside while we dine. For home style cooking, it’s impossible to beat The Wheelhouse with their soups and sandwiches. It’s a great place to take children and grandparents, too. And if you want the full river experience, sit on the pier at The Barge Restaurant on MacCorkle Ave, just east of the Patrick Street bridge. The view upriver to the state capitol is thrilling. And if you are in a European mood, try the Creperi Cafe at 4002 MacCorkle Ave in Kanawha City

What are Charleston’s attractions that every tourist must visit?

The Clay Center and it’s many attractions. The art museum, the hands-on exhibits like Rock City and “Health Royale”, a spin off of Celebrity Squares that is hysterical. The planetarium and the I-max movie theatre are a lot of fun too. It would be easy to spend an entire rainy day in the Clay Center, and to enjoy every minute of it.

What are the absolute must-try’s for every visitor in Charleston?

If your time is limited, go to Capitol Street. Grab a home-made ice cream from Ellens (raspberry chocolate chip is my favorite), then have a coffee while you peruse Taylor’s Books. Charleston is a river town, so walk down to Haddad Park and watch the coal barges floating down the river

What are the cheap thrills that you can enjoy in Charleston?

Mountain Stage, a nationally syndicated radio show is performed on Sunday evenings at the Cultural Center. What a treat to watch a radio show being taped – and yes, it has “APPLAUSE” signs. It attracts some of the finest up-and-coming as well as established musicians in the country. Tickets are only $20. I have friends who drive in from other states just to see this show. The Carriage Trail behind the former Sunrise museum (now an attorney’s office) is a pleasant walk from South Hills to the train station

A real estate broker for Beattie-Firth, Inc, Jane Beattie Shepherd is a true blue Charlestonian. Born and raised in Charleston, the only time Jane left West Virginia is when she attended college in neighboring Virginia. For Jane, Charleston already has everything she needs.