UNION — The Inn at Merridun will host a special evening of mind reading and mystery, with some help from the spirits that reside at the historic mansion.
After a sold-out performance in January, Union native Shaun Moss — known to his audiences as “The Southern Charmer” Kellar O’Neil — will return to The Inn at Merridun for a special Halloween-themed performance at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 27.
Moss, who currently resides in Greenville, is a mentalist who amazes audiences throughout the Southeast with signature mind-reading effects. He performs regularly at the Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., and has made numerous appearances on WSPA’s “Your Carolina with Jack and Kimberly.”
Moss (as his stage persona Kellar O’Neil) amazed his audience at Merridun in January with effects such as his Mystic Tea Kettle and Bar of Wonders, but he says his upcoming performance will be geared toward Halloween.
“It’s still a mind-reading show, but the difference is with this, I will add some historical and ghostly kinds of things,” Moss said, mentioning that he got the feeling there was something very interesting about the mansion during his last performance.
Moss pointed out that during the 1800s — when Merridun was built — it was common for people to hire spirit mediums to come into their homes and manifest spirits. When Moss returns to Merridun on Oct. 27, he will bring something he calls “The Spirit Cabinet,” which will require assistance from the ghosts of the mansion.
“It’s family entertainment, perfect for Halloween weekend,” Moss said, explaining that his effects will be comical as well as eerie.
Audiences might also see Moss tape coins over his eyes and cover them with a blindfold, then describe objects from audience members’ purses or pockets. For example, he has been able to recite serial numbers from audience members’ dollar bills or numbers from driver’s licenses.
The event will include a scrumptious, substantial autumn meal in the Inn at Merridun dining room, followed by dessert, coffee and The Southern Charmer’s performance of Wonders of the Mind in one of the front rooms.
Seating is limited, so those who are interested should call (864) 427-7052 to make reservations.
“Cocktail dress” is requested, and the minimum age is 10. Guests can bring their own beer, wine or champagne.
The History Of Merridun
Merridun — an antebellum mansion listed on the National Register of Historic Places — was originally a Georgian-styled house built in 1855-57 by William Keenan, who was a local merchant and also intendant (mayor) of Union in 1855. The property at that time included 4,000 acres and was known as Keenan Plantation.
The house and property were acquired in 1876 by lawyer Benjamin H. Rice. He had inherited a plantation in the Buffalo area known as Pleasant Grove, which adjoined the Keenan property. At the time of purchase, the house in Union became his town home on this 8,000-acre estate; cotton was the main industry of the plantation. Some major renovations were done to the home in the early 1880s.
In the early 1880s, Thomas Cary Duncan (1862-1928) — son of Bishop W.W. Duncan and Medora Rice Duncan — moved to Union to live and work with his grandfather, B.H. Rice. In 1885, T.C. Duncan brought his bride — Fannie Merriman (1863-1948) of Greenwood — to live in Union. Duncan inherited the house from his maternal grandparents and renamed it “Merridun” — a combination of three family names that graced this ancestral home (Merriman, Rice and Duncan).
In 1893, Duncan almost single-handedly restored Union to its former position of wealth and prestige by introducing the textile industry to the city. He built the first successful cotton mill within sight of this mansion. A political and industrial leader, he served in the South Carolina House of Representatives from 1892-94 and 1916-18 and was also responsible for constructing Buffalo Mill as well as Union’s B.U.C. Railroad and hydroelectric plant.
After inheriting Merridun, T.C. Duncan “remodeled” giving the originally patterned Georgian style exterior its characteristics of the classic revival style. The original plain double piazzas with doric columns were replaced with corinthian columns and side wing marble porticos were added, resulting in over 2,400 square feet of porch space.
The 7,900 square feet Georgian floor plan includes a stunning curved staircase, large foyers on both floors, a music room, parlor, library, dining room, kitchen, seven bedrooms, multiple bathrooms and a third story cupola. A brick wing behind the main house once was used as a servant’s kitchen, well, laundry house, quarters and a smoke house. Unique architectural aspects of this mansion include frescoed ceilings in the music room and dining room, mosaic tiles and turn of the century stenciling and faux graining in the main foyer and beautiful chandeliers.
T.C. and Fannie Duncan had two sons who died at a very young age and three daughters — Medora Eleanor Duncan Fitten (1887-1960), Louisa Merriman Duncan Eaves (1890-1975) and Fannie Merriman Duncan (1897-1974). Medora married and moved to Atlanta; Louisa and Fannie lived at Merridun until their deaths. Louisa’s only son, Thomas Cary Duncan Eaves, and his wife Juliet Caruana Eaves inherited Merridun; seven generations of the Benjamin Rice family enjoyed the pleasures of Merridun prior to being sold in the summer of 1990. Portraits of Thomas Cary Duncan and his wife, Fannie Merriman Duncan hang in the foyer and parlors.
Staff Writer Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 29, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.