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A Foundation of Love: James Island home bonds Lowcountry families across generations

Mary Connor's Former and Marie Price's Current James Island Home (Provided by Marie Price)

A James Island house that has been a home for two different families has recently brought them together.

There’s an old saying that “a house is made of brick and stone, but a home is made of love alone.” And for 72 years, a home is exactly what Mary and George Connor built on Plymouth Avenue on James Island.

Now, a Mount Pleasant woman and her family are helping sustain the foundation of love the Connors first began building decades ago.

Marie Price and her husband Russell bought the Connors’ former house in James Island in 2015, hoping to flip it.

Marie says when she walked into the house she felt an undeniable love coming from the walls. When Russell began to tear down the sheetrock, love is exactly what they found.

“There’s a feeling in that house that’s palpable, you know,” Price says. “When my husband tore down the sheetrock, there was writing behind it and I found their names.”

The writing Marie and Russell found read “This house was made in 1940 for Mary and George Connor by Rob Crooks.”

Finding the names of the previous owners was a defining moment for Marie says, and she began to research the couple. She found out George Connor had passed away, but Mary Connor was in an assisted living home in Mount Pleasant.

“And I went to the nursing home and found her.”

That was in 2015.

Since then, the ladies and their families say a cherished friendship has blossomed.

“I love it, I’m so glad to have met you,” Mary says to Marie, as they sit together in Mount Pleasant Manor Monday. “I was praying for somebody I would like, because I didn’t want anybody I didn’t like in that house.”

Mary says her brother and father built the James Island home back in 1940, on a half-acre of land that Mary and George bought for $200.

“My daddy picked out every piece of lumber that went into that house,” Mary says.

Mary says she lived in the sturdy home for 72 years, and that’s where she and George raised two sons. It’s where Marie and Russel now are raising their children.

“We actually bonded the first day I met her,” Marie says. “Her son just passed of cancer, so we cried together. And then like a week later I found out that my son had a brain tumor. And I went back to her and we cried together again.”

Marie says she later learned that Mary’s late son grew up in the same bedroom her son now lives in.

“So there was a whole other level of bonding that took place,” Marie says.

As well as the bond between two families, Mary says the home is a piece of living history. She has numerous stories she likes to share from her more than half a century living on James Island.

One of her favorites is the time her family hosted members of the British Royal Navy stationed in Charleston during World War II, and she served them some Southern-style sweet tea.

“I set the tea on the table and one of them tried it, and said ‘TEA, THIS AINT NO TEA!,” Mary recalled. “They didn’t like it.”

Mary celebrated her 100th birthday on January 5 with family and friends, including at her side.

“I didn’t plan to live that long, the Lord just made me do it,” Mary says.

Marie and Russell, were there, too, and the present they gave Mary left her overcome with emotion. It was a picture of the home they both love covered in snow from this month’s winter storm.

“As soon as (Mary) saw it, she kissed the picture and was so excited!” says Marie.

The relationship forged with Mary and her family is invaluable to the Price family, and they say they intend to always keep a piece of the Connor family and their history displayed prominently for all who visit.

“So many of the family have visited the house and have teared up that we have preserved the growth charts and hand prints that were drawn on the wall,” Marie says. “It is more than a house. It is a place of outpouring love and I feel it every day that I live in it"

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