Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Sights to See: historic house museums, Charleston, South Carolina


HISTORIC HOUSE MUSEUMS

Aiken-Rhett House Museum  48 Elizabeth St., (843) 733-1159.  M-Sat, 10am-5pm; Sun 2-5pm (last tour at 4:15pm).  $12, 6-16 $5.  Dating back to 1820, this colorful neoclassical house was owned by William Aiken Jr. and stayed in his family for 142 years.  One of the state’s wealthiest citizens, Aiken was a businessman, rice planter, and governor of South Carolina.  It opened as a house museum in 1975.  Painted a colorful yellow mustard on the outside, this house features big rooms with high ceilings and original wood floors.  Architectural details include a free-flying staircase, wide doors, Victorian window doors that let in natural breezes, and plenty of shutters.  I particularly enjoyed seeing the herringbone brick pathways that are just like the one I have at my own home.  Both of the original outbuildings remain--the kitchen-laundry and the carriage-stable house; the latter also held the slave sleeping quarters.  The house is conserved, rather than restored, and so the interior finishes remain much as they were in the 19th century, including peeling paint.  Currently, excavation is going on in the back yard. 
exterior of Aiken-Rhett House Museum in Charleston, South Carolina
exterior of Aiken-Rhett House Museum in Charleston, South Carolina



interior of Aiken-Rhett House Museum in Charleston, South Carolina
interior of Aiken-Rhett House Museum in Charleston, South Carolina





interior of Aiken-Rhett House Museum in Charleston, South Carolina
interior of Aiken-Rhett House Museum in Charleston, South Carolina


 
Victorian window-door at Aiken-Rhett House Museum in Charleston, South Carolina
Victorian window-door at Aiken-Rhett House Museum in Charleston, South Carolina



excavation at Aiken-Rhett House Museum in Charleston, South Carolina
excavation at Aiken-Rhett House Museum in Charleston, South Carolina


Nathaniel Russell House Museum  51 Meeting St., (843) 724-8481.   This neoclassical Grand Federal townhouse was built in 1808 and restored in the 1990s.  In dramatic opposition to the Aiken-Rhett House, it is constructed with local bricks as well as beautiful original white ironwork and furnished with items appropriate to the house.  The interiors are restored to their original 1808 grandeur, and viewing the inside of this impressive home and seeing how people lived when Charleston was at its apex of influence and wealth is enlightening.  Acclaimed features include 14-foot ceilings (which helped keep things cool), gilded cornices, and a free-flying cantilevered staircase.  The property operated as an “urban plantation,” with 18 enslaved people tending gardens and orchards.  Unfortunately, the carriage and stable house was destroyed in an earthquake.  Allow time to stroll in the lovely formal gardens and inspect the unusual blooms.  
exterior of Nathaniel Russell House Museum in Charleston, South Carolina
exterior of Nathaniel Russell House Museum in Charleston, South Carolina


gilded cornices at Nathaniel Russell House Museum in Charleston, South Carolina
gilded cornices at Nathaniel Russell House Museum in Charleston, South Carolina



gilded cornices at Nathaniel Russell House Museum in Charleston, South Carolina
gilded cornices at Nathaniel Russell House Museum in Charleston, South Carolina


free-flying cantilevered staircase at Nathaniel Russell House Museum in Charleston, South Carolina
free-flying cantilevered staircase at Nathaniel Russell House Museum in Charleston, South Carolina

 
tea set at Nathaniel Russell House Museum in Charleston, South Carolina
tea set at Nathaniel Russell House Museum in Charleston, South Carolina

 
garden at Nathaniel Russell House Museum in Charleston, South Carolina
garden at Nathaniel Russell House Museum in Charleston, South Carolina


garden bloom at Nathaniel Russell House Museum in Charleston, South Carolina
garden bloom at Nathaniel Russell House Museum in Charleston, South Carolina


More things to do in Charleston.

More things to do in South Carolina.

More ideas for travel adventures in California and the U.S. and around the world.

images ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers
 

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