Charleston's House Museums
Charleston's House Museums
Step outside Planters Inn and discover Charleston’s chronology, which is evident at every turn. The peninsula is a preservationist’s muse. Cobblestone streets—polished by more than 300 years of history—are a burnished roadmap through time. Carolopolis Award plaques, copper lanterns, and hitching posts hint at a bygone era. Ornate plasterwork, period antiques, paneled ballrooms, and formal gardens illustrate the grandeur of colonial wealth, a bygone era expertly preserved at Charleston’s antebellum-mansions-turned-house-museums—all of which are located within easy walking distance of Planters Inn.
Built in 1825 and enhanced in 1838, this stunning mansion sits on High Battery and offers a sweeping view of Charleston’s historic harbor. It was from the piazza that General P. T. Beaureguard watched the bombardment of Fort Sumter, which signaled the start of the Civil War. One of the home’s more notable antiquities is an original print of the Ordinance of Secession.
Heyward Washington House
Built in 1772 for Thomas Heyward, Jr., a signer of the Declaration of Independence, this home was opened to the public in 1930—Charleston’s first historic house museum. The Holmes Bookcase is considered to be one of the finest examples of American-made furniture. The formal garden features plants popular in late 18th century Charleston gardens.
Nathaniel Russell House
Built in 1808, this home is widely recognized as one of America’s most important neoclassical dwellings. The interior is adorned with elaborate plaster ornamentation and a stunning free-flying staircase. Be sure to check out the joggling board in the formal gardens—this is a uniquely Charleston invention.
Joseph Manigault House
Built in 1803, this house is a premier example of Federal-style architecture. The collection of period American, English and French furnishings illustrate the lifestyle of a wealthy, rice-planting family.
Aiken Rhett House
Built in 1818, this sprawling double house and associated outbuildings are a premier example of urban life during the plantation age. The home is an active restoration project for Historic Charleston Foundation’s archivists and preservationists.
An Ideal Plein Air City
A vibrant movement occurred in the 1920s when Charleston became the muse for a cadre of poets, playwrights, painters, and musicians who collectively produced a voluminous body of work inspired by Charleston’s curious customs and evocative geography. The era, which spanned 1915 – 1940, became known as the Charleston Renaissance, a far-reaching movement with enduring éclat.
Acclaimed painted Alfred Hutty, who relocated to Charleston to teach for the Carolina Art Association in 1919, is said to have wired his wife, “Come quickly, have found heaven.” Today, a variety of noted galleries are located in the French Quarter neighborhood, a few blocks south of the Planters Inn.