Flash Back Friday: The Topping Out Ceremony

Workers gather at The Sanctuary's Topping Out Ceremony

Workers gather at The Sanctuary’s Topping Out Ceremony

Eleven years ago The Sanctuary at Kiawah at Kiawah Island Golf Resort held a very unique event—The Topping Out Ceremony. “Topping Out” is a 1,300 year-old custom that originated in Scandinavia to celebrate the completion of a structure and to appease the gods and ancestral spirits living in the trees that were cut and used for construction. In modern times, builders place an evergreen tree at the site of the uppermost steel or concrete structure marking the final stretch in the building’s progress and recognizing the fine efforts of the construction crew. The ceremony gave the hard workers an opportunity to take pride in their workmanship.

Chimney & tree set in place at formal "topping out"

Chimney & tree set in place at formal “topping out”

In addition to hoisting the evergreen tree, The Sanctuary celebrated this milestone by setting in place the final internal steel section of the chimney that rises from the fireplace in the main lobby of the hotel. All in attendance, including: former Kiawah Island Mayor William Wert, former Seabrook Mayor John Dubois, former Charleston City Council members Deborah Morinelli and Larry Shirley, and over 500 construction workers, had the opportunity to sign their names or write a good luck message on a special panel attached to the chimney for posterity sake.

Kiawah's then-Managing Director, Prem Devadas, addresses Topping Out crowd

Kiawah’s then-Managing Director, Prem Devadas, addresses Topping Out crowd

A private reception was held in the lobby overlooking the grand lawn, sand dunes, and the Atlantic Ocean complete with red carpet and white glove service. Guests received miniature bricks—replicas of the Flemish Bond brickwork that is used throughout the hotel—as mementos of the occasion.

This special ceremony not gave us the opportunity to thank the fantastic work crew and local community sponsors, but it left future guests excited about our progress and eager for the grand opening of the one-of-a-kind hotel, The Sanctuary.


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