Aiken-Rhett House

 
 Once operating as the main entrance of the home now resides two symmetrical parlors divided between two pocket doors. The character and details of the house are popularly known as Greek Revival. 

Once operating as the main entrance of the home now resides two symmetrical parlors divided between two pocket doors. The character and details of the house are popularly known as Greek Revival. 

The Aiken-Rhett House is a beautiful time capsule built in 1820. The tour takes you back into time seeing what it was like living in Charleston, South Carolina during the era. The home was passed down through several individuals who created what we see today.  The wealthy merchant,  John Robinson, purchased the land and built the original house. Governor William Aiken purchased the house; therefore, passing it down to his son William Aiken Jr.  After William Jr.'s death the house went to his daughter Harriet Lowndes Aiken and his son-in-law Major A.B. Rhett. They went on to raise their children in the house and made renovations to the property that are visible today.

The house is now owned by the Historical Charleston Foundation and located at 48 Elizabeth Street. They’ve adopted a conservation approach holding true to the style and original state of the house. They seek to preserve and protect the building and artifacts of historical significance. 

 Circular plaster centerpiece located in the two symmetrical drawing rooms. From the center moving outwards with 12 radiating acanthus leaves enclosed within a plain band centered by a beaded trim. The ornate outer trim with rosettes encloses the medallion from which is suspended a glass French chandelier.

Circular plaster centerpiece located in the two symmetrical drawing rooms. From the center moving outwards with 12 radiating acanthus leaves enclosed within a plain band centered by a beaded trim. The ornate outer trim with rosettes encloses the medallion from which is suspended a glass French chandelier.

Stair Hall

 Main central stair hall leading to all three floors. This room is rectangular with a wooden staircase and two octagonal-and-turned balusters to each tread. 

Main central stair hall leading to all three floors. This room is rectangular with a wooden staircase and two octagonal-and-turned balusters to each tread. 

 The furniture and decor in the house are original to the families who lived there. It is clear that time has left its mark. There is still something so beautiful about the scroll work and "C" - curves that go into this floor mirror spanning the second floor hallway as shown above.

The furniture and decor in the house are original to the families who lived there. It is clear that time has left its mark. There is still something so beautiful about the scroll work and "C" - curves that go into this floor mirror spanning the second floor hallway as shown above.

 View looking up to the third story ceiling, a plaster cornice, and centerpiece consisting of  12 radiating acanthus leaves surrounded by a greek key fret band.

View looking up to the third story ceiling, a plaster cornice, and centerpiece consisting of  12 radiating acanthus leaves surrounded by a greek key fret band.

Verandah's of the Aiken-Rhett

 Buildings in the south have two and three story porches, known as piazzas, that are strategically designed to take full advantage of the local winds. The porches also come in handy as a covering when the afternoon rain showers begin. 

Buildings in the south have two and three story porches, known as piazzas, that are strategically designed to take full advantage of the local winds. The porches also come in handy as a covering when the afternoon rain showers begin. 

 The columns of the porch are doric in character with turned baluster railings. The single hung windows transform into doorways that allow you to walk onto the verandahs. These windows are advantageously placed to allow for a cross breeze through the house and are extremely common in the South.

The columns of the porch are doric in character with turned baluster railings. The single hung windows transform into doorways that allow you to walk onto the verandahs. These windows are advantageously placed to allow for a cross breeze through the house and are extremely common in the South.

Historic Details

All of the colored photographs pictured above were taken by me on our tour of the Aiken Rhett. The information I gathered was from an audio tour and, much to my surprise, the amazing documents compiled after 1933 by the Historic American Buildings Survey. I found the information through the Library of Congress

The black & white photographs appear to be taken between 1977 - 79. 

I cannot pinpoint the era in which the drawings were created but to my understanding it appears to be after William Aiken junior died and passed the home down to his daughter & son-in-law. The drawings show changes to the structure by transforming the size of the two drawing rooms and moving the main entrance to the side of Elizabeth street. 

 Front elevation, drawing

Front elevation, drawing

 Front elevation

Front elevation

 Main entrance after the renovations

Main entrance after the renovations

 West elevation, drawing

West elevation, drawing

 First floor southwest room, also known as the two symmetrical drawing rooms.

First floor southwest room, also known as the two symmetrical drawing rooms.

Check out my other post about The Charleston Foundations additional property, The Nathaniel Russell House

Please let me know what you thought about this post? All feedback is always welcome & helpful.

 

 

Nathaniel Russell House

 

The Nathaniel Russell House is a historic house at 51 Meeting Street in Charleston, South Carolina. I am breaking down our destinations as we adventure through the low country. 

Nathaniel Russel House - Charleston, South Carolina. The rectangular house has a symmetrical facade. The second floor windows are ornamented with white marble lintels recessed below roman inspired arches. 

 Gardens leading to the visitors center

Gardens leading to the visitors center

 Front of house

Front of house

I am absolutely in love with the gardens in the low country. The climate is humid and tropical, resembling a hothouse. It rains almost every afternoon so I doubt many people have to think about watering their plants. I live in California and envy this flourishing horticultural climate. 

The most important architectural feature in the home is the warm yellow ochre staircase hall that spans three stories. The spiral staircase is a canteliver design (the step above supports the step below). This was all accomplished by the use of wooden pegs, not a single nail or screw was used during construction. The center features a troupe-l'oeil painting, an artistic illusion to trick the eye into believing the design is 3d.  

 Elipitial medallion to meet the second story

Elipitial medallion to meet the second story

The shutters and pine plank flooring is original to the house. To prevent the furniture from being further damaged by the sunlight, the shutters are closed during specific times of the day. 

Adjacent to the spiral staircase sits the oval dining room. The walls are covered in turquoise wallpaper applied square by square and painted after application. Interesting fact about life in the south: they begin the day with breakfast; as much of us do, although they eat an early supper around 3 o'clock in the afternoon. Later in the evening around 5 or 6 leftovers/cold-cuts are served or available if people are still hungry, followed shortly by dessert. 

The oval drawing room is located on the second floor right above the dining room. This is where the women would retire to after dinner, separating themselves from the men. The brightly colored and ornate rug is reflected through the entire room with its apricot walls and detailed crown molding.  

IMG_5918.JPG

This room is similar to what we refer to as the master bedroom. The walls were hand painted with a special brush to replicate how it would have looked in the 18th century.  The furniture in the home is not directly related to the Russell family, but pieces from the time period that they resided in the home. The Nathaniel Russell House is definitely a site to visit if you find yourself in Charleston, South Carolina. The surrounding area and neighborhood of this site allows for an incredible opportunity to walk around and enjoy the beautiful homes. The sister property to this house is the Aiken-Rhett House. I will share more about the Aiken-Rhett in later post. 

 Georgian style four poster bed with upholstery hangings for ornate and warmth purposes.

Georgian style four poster bed with upholstery hangings for ornate and warmth purposes.

Have you had the pleasure to visit Charleston, SC? If so what was your favorite thing about the historic downtown district? 

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