Charleston Charm: Historical Homes

I'm back at it today, this time I've got some pictures of a few historical homes that we toured (or explored) and some interesting notes about each, mostly thanks to my fact loving brother in law! I stalked his Instagram account to gather my facts on these homes, so thank you Jesse for helping me out when I couldn't remember the details! It is fascinating how much history is alive and well in Charleston, (restored and preserved) and well kept under the direction of the Historical Charleston Foundation, but also because of the pride that so many natives have in their beautiful city.  

Because downtown Charleston sits directly on the water, it was a major hub in the slave trade with one of the original slave markets in the nation. I don't know all the facts about that, we didn't tour the slave market (much to my Mom's dismay) so you'll have to trust google with those :) 

Aiken-Rhett House
We did however tour this home on our first day, this is the Aiken-Rhett House, circa 1820. 
It was fascinating because it is a home that has been preserved as found and not restored. I'm borrowing facts from Jesse about this home, "the interior of the house has been left nearly untouched for the past 150 years. Furniture is original to the house, along with the walls, doors, and  floors, and they are as they appeared 150 years ago. This house is considered the most complete example showcasing urban life in antebellum Charleston." 
This is the view from the back courtyard of the home. The main home is in yellow and the slave quarters are to the left and the stables to the right.  I remember from our audio tour that this family alone owned more than 800 slaves, not on this property but in all of their homes, businesses, etc. That's hard to fathom for a multitude of reasons and yet, this was an unusually nice building for the slaves and their families. 
They were well taken care of and it was interesting to tour this and see much of it exactly as it had been, but still there is something so hard and wrong about imagining a time when slavery was a real thing in our country and people were treated like property. 
This was an outhouse for the slaves, there was an identical one on the opposite corner of the yard. I assume one for women and one for men. These are a good example of how much better they provided for the people who worked for them. 

Such a huge home! That back staircase was beautiful and simple.  When we toured this property we could not have our purses with us so that we wouldn't brush against the walls or doorways and further damage what they have been preserving. 
And old carriage...
...and another covered one. So amazing!
We couldn't take pictures inside, but this is on one of the piazzas and those are windows and massive doors that acted as shutters! Can you believe how big they are?
You entered the outdoor piazza through the window, so interesting.  This was a fun house to tour, it was very fascinating to see a home as it would have been, untouched hundreds of years later.  The best room was their art gallery which we could not photograph but it was gorgeous and filled with paintings and statues brought over from Europe or commissioned by artists here.  So wild to imagine living like that!

4 South Battery 
This home is one of the most famous in the Battery and is right across the street from the water. 
It has a fascinating story behind it, again from a time that is just hard to wrap our minds around. 
It was built in 1892 and given as a wedding gift from a husband to his bride. It's one of the grandest homes in Charleston and I learned from Jesse that three Presidents have stayed here, Taft, Cleveland and Roosevelt! 
Isn't it gorgeous??
It is an Italian Renaissance style home and it was designed by the Architect who designed the Flatiron Building in Times Square, Frederick Dinkleberg. Those unreal Corinthian columns get me every time.  They are stunning and enormous in person!  It was recently renovated, apparently it was in bad shape even a few years ago, so it's quite something to see it restored back to its glory again!

2 Meeting Street Inn
This beautiful home is in a prime real estate location, on the corner of South Battery and Meeting Street.  It was built in 1890 for some newlyweds when the Father of the Bride, a wealthy merchant, gave them a $75,000 cash give to build their new home on the corner of the two famous streets. 
Since 1946 this home has operated as a Bed and Breakfast, one of the most desirable in Charleston. 
I can only imagine what the inside is like!
So many gorgeous details from every vantage point.
The light fixtures, the wrought iron scrollwork, the ornate tile work on the steps, the beautiful gardens...ahhh!!  Did you notice the blue ceilings on the porch as well?  You will find those all over Charleston due to an old belief that painting the ceiling of your porch, piazza or veranda "Haint Blue" will keep the ghosts and evil spirits from entering your home. Isn't that crazy?  It's everywhere and many people from Charleston are convinced there are ghosts in lots of these old homes. 

Calhoun Mansion
Just around the corner on Meeting Street might be my favorite home of all!  It's called Calhoun Mansion, and it is the largest private residence in Charleston at a whopping 24,000 square feet!  
And no, that is not a typo. 
It's also just stunningly beautiful from every side. I adore the colors and the architectural details galore. It's like eye candy and I could not get enough!
My only regret from our visit is that we couldn't squeeze a tour into our schedule, but I am thinking of it like a piece of dessert I have saved for later!  Next time I'm in Charleston, I WILL be taking this tour! 
With impressive details everywhere, this home is a stunner.
Such gorgeous gas lanterns all over the property.
Those green and black stacked cornerstones are show stoppers, helping to establish the Italianate style. 
A good look at the haint blue ceilings on the piazzas and those gorgeous Corinthian columns and balustrades. 

Not a bad neighboring view...not to mention that twisty, ivy covered tree. 
Looking up at the front entrance, I did not capture that door like I wanted to, but oh my goodness it was incredible! 
Even the ground held artistry and beauty! I can't wait to come back to this house someday. 

The 3 Sisters
These three gorgeous homes have a pretty funny story told about them that is actually not true at all, but since I have two sisters I've always loved that these homes are referred to as "the 3 sisters!" According to the "urban legend" a wealthy father had these three houses built for his three daughters, whom he assumed would never marry because they were too ugly! Ha! What a Father, huh??  He supposedly had a brunette, a blonde and a red-headed for daughters, hence the colors of these very similar homes. I think that is a clever and silly story, but thankfully it is not true.  I still like to think of Stacie, Jennie and I having three homes like these and living next door to each other, however.  
Hopefully filled with our families and not because we were too ugly to be married!

Wentworth Mansion 
Again, this one was a stunner and like Calhoun Mansion, it is also 24,000 square feet of gorgeous. 
This one is not a private residence anymore however, it is a historic inn today. 
It was however built as a private home in 1886 for a family with 13 children! 
In 1997 it was turned into a grand inn. It is ranked on Travel and Leisure's Top 500 Hotels in the World List, coming in at #12. It's been awarded the #1 hotel in Charleston, #4 U.S. Small City Hotel, and #1 & #2 best hotel service in the U.S. and World, respectively! That is amazing, isn't it?? 
Some of the most beautiful stained glass work I've ever seen. 
Inside the hotel was just stunning. 
Sitting areas...
Beautiful flowers
Artistry from the ceilings down to the floor!
A little eating area tucked in a corner nook, I could have hung out there with a coffee for hours! 

Some of the awards that adorn this historic hotel.
Looking up, there is just no way to do the size and scale of this place justice with a photograph, but trust me, it was massive!

See what I mean??  This place was huge!! 
If only they could do away with those horrible power lines...
I loved this hotel! 

Patrick O'Donnell House
I said Calhoun Mansion was my favorite home, but then I look at this one and I might have to change my mind!  How many times can I use "beautiful, gorgeous, amazing, a stunner" in one post and NOT drive you crazy??  Because I know I am teetering on obnoxious, but how else could you possibly describe this??  
I think the color scheme is one reason I am in love with this charming home, it's sort of a traditional classic with a modern twist. I learned from Jesse that there are 21 columns on all those piazzas!  21! 

Those windows!!  There aren't even words to fully do them justice...
An old hitching post out front
Hello, gorgeous!
It's hard to see with the reflection on the glass, but I love the top windows that say "No. 21" 
 The sun was in the worst spot for capturing this, but can you even handle this??
As legend has it, the man who built this for his fiancee in 1856, took so long to build it that she left him!  And so the house became known as, O'Donnell's Folly.  Aren't these tidbits so interesting??
 I don't know if that's true or who that lady was, but if that really happened, then she was a fool! 
Just look at the beauty that was certainly worth waiting for!!  
 Those could have been your windows, Mrs. O'Donnell to be!  
How could you let those go to someone else?? 
Such a Charleston gem, this home is!

Nathaniel Russell House
This home was purchased by the Historic Charleston Foundation and has been restored to its' original 1808 glory. We toured this one and enjoyed seeing it from the inside out. 


Nathaniel Russell was a very wealthy merchant who had the home built in the late 1700's. He wanted it to be symmetrical and it boasts a very famous "free-flying" elliptical spiral staircase. It is so gorgeous and an engineering feet! It's completely free-standing with each piece of the tread supporting the one above it.  I wish I could have taken pictures of it but I couldn't. If you follow Jesse on Instagram you can see a picture he was able to take on an photographer's tour he was invited to. It's truly breathtaking!

Can you see his initials in the iron balcony?

This was a fun tour and concluded a great day, taking in all this history and architecture. 
I hope you are inspired to visit!  I could have taken a million more pictures and I certainly didn't hit all the historical places in Charleston, there are many I've yet to see and many I simply left out. 
But these are some of the best and I loved seeing them all again! 

P.S.-You can find Jesse's photography website here as well as links to his Instagram account and hundreds of photos to view and/or order!