On a recent visit to Charleston, South Carolina, I bought a 2-day pass, called the Charleston Heritage Passport, at the North Charleston Visitor Center near the airport, and planned to include as many of the sites it offered of interest to me as I could comfortably manage. On the first day I visited Ashley River Road plantations, Drayton Hall and Middleton Place. For the second day I had a list of 5 historic houses in Charleston proper. I found that several of them had rules against photography inside the houses, so concentrated on 2, the Joseph Manigault House which allowed photography, and the Aiken-Rhett House, which, while forbidding photography inside the house, had such interest and atmosphere inside and out, it deserved inclusion. I offer the 4 houses in the order I visited them.
The street-facing entrance below, garden-facing above.
Day Two, The Joseph Manigault House:
At the suggestion of the young woman in the North Charleston Visitor’s Center, I parked my car in the adjacent free lot and, for $6 roundtrip, took the comfortable shuttle bus into Charleston to the large mid-town Visitor’s Center. From there, the free trolleys take tourists and locals to all corners of the historic district. But my first destination was a short walk away.
Referred to as “Charleston’s Huguenot House”, located at 350 Meeting Street, it was built in 1803 to be wealthy rice planter, Joseph Manigault’s townhouse. The location was considered suburban, outside the limits of the city at the time. He married into families whose names are now familiar to us, Middleton and Drayton. It was purchased by the Charleston Museum, across the street at 360 Meeting Street, in 1933.
Billing itself as “America’s First Museum”, the Charleston Museum has also owned the town home of Declaration of Independence signer, Thomas Heyward, Jr, at 87 Church Street, since 1929. It’s now called the Heyward-Washington House, because George Washington slept there, for a week. I know another house,
Landon Carter’s Sabine Hall in Virginia, where Washington stayed regularly. His name has not been grafted onto the house name, so there is apparently no rule, but possibly more than a little shameless promotion at work in Charleston.
The Manigault house is a pretty one but, I confess, too restored to be on my favorites list. I was allowed to take pictures throughout the house, and while the docent gave a comprehensive tour, she had a curious knack for drifting into my compositions. This house had, by far, the most furniture and accessories of the three I toured inside, the garden is pretty and, despite my stated reservations, I do recommend a visit.
Stairs to the unrestored 3rd floor. Visitor's not allowed.
To read more about PortMoresby’s visit to Charleston SC, click here.
For others of PortMoresby’s contributions, click here.