Historic Homes of Charleston, SC

 

By: Tour Management Editor
May 24, 2016

One of the main attractions of any Historic Downtown Charleston tour is the glimpse into the past offered by the city's historic homes. Thousands of tourists each year come to peer into the domestic lives of the planters, politicians, merchants and intellectuals of the 18th and 19th centuries. And there is much to see, from the furniture and finery to the always-fascinating contrasts between the lives of the wealthy homeowners and the enslaved African Americans who served them.

Architectural history abounds in Charleston SC, and you can absorb much by simply strolling the city's brick streets. But there are several old homes that offer the visitor a much more in-depth experience; ones that are dutifully and accurately maintained and open to the paying public. Let's take a look at some of these historical gems.

The Aiken-Rhett House Museum
Located on Elizabeth Street, near the Charleston Museum, the Aiken-Rhett House Museum was built circa 1820. The home's most famous resident was William Aiken Jr., the governor of South Carolina and one of its richest citizens. Aiken and his wife Harriet toured Europe extensively and brought back the finest artworks, books and furnishings to fill their home. Today, visitors can tour the ornate Aiken-Rhett House daily, as well as outbuildings where slaves lived and worked.

Calhoun Mansion
Located on Meeting Street near White Point Garden, the Calhoun Mansion is a 35-room Italianate mansion built in 1876. At the time, it was called "the handsomest private residence in the South." Built by local businessman George W. Williams, the house later passed to his son-in-law, a grandson of noted Charlestonian John C. Calhoun. The home became a hotel in 1914. Eventually, after a long period of decline, the house was condemned in the 1970s. A new buyer purchased the house and began a decades-long, multi-million dollar renovation. Today, restored to its former glory, The Calhoun Mansion is once again a private home that offers daily public tours.

Edmondston-Alston House
Located on East Battery near White Point Garden, the Edmondston-Alston House was built in 1825 and offers a glorious view of Charleston Harbor. The house features Federal and Greek Revival design and is filled with a vast collection of family silver, furniture, books, decorative arts and furniture. The house was built by shipping magnate Charles Edmondston, who chose a Federal design. Upon hitting hard times, he sold the house to successful rice planter Charles Alston, who updated the house to its current Greek Revival style. The house has remained in the Alston family since 1838. Guided 30-minute tours are conducted daily.

Joseph Manigault House
From its stunning spiral staircase to its meticulously preserved period gardens, the Joseph Manigault House offers a fascinating look at the lives of one of Charleston's premier families, and of the slaves who served them. The Manigaults were Huguenots, French Protestants who came to America seeking religious freedom. They found it, as well as tremendous success as planters and merchants. The house on Meeting Street has been owned, preserved and interpreted by the Charleston Museum for over 80 years, and its décor and furnishings reflect the early 1800s in careful detail. Tours daily.

Book a Charleston Historic Home Tour Today!
If you desire a peek into society life in the 18th and 19th centuries, from the formal dining room to the kitchen outbuilding, a guided Historic House tour is for you. And the above list goes on: other fascinating, beautifully preserved Charleston house museums include the Heyward-Washington House on Church Street and the Nathaniel Russell House on Meeting Street, both of which offer daily guided tours. Make a guided home tour – or two or three – a part of your next visit to Historic Downtown Charleston! Contact Adventure Sightseeing for further details.

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