The nascent city of Charles Town was enclosed by a protective wall from 1690 to 1720 which extended down to today’s Water Street. Water Street itself was Vanderhorst Creek which was later filled in. Outside the wall, at the entrance to the harbor an earth wall was held together with sticks and topped with grass along the water. Wooden boards were laid across the wall and guns aimed out across the mouth of the harbor.
In 1787, after the British had departed the city, work was begun to improve the wall. Ricks used as ballast in ships were piled into the wall. By 1820 a granite wall was completed. At this time the city’s richest merchants and bankers began building Charleston’s finest mansions with views of the water. The open space at the tip was used as a public park beginning in 1837.
After the Civil War began on Fort Sumter in the Charleston Harbor on April 12, 1861 the bombardment of the Battery ensued. Only one house, at the corner of Atlantic Street and East Battery was destroyed. Eventually the park became known as White Point Gardens because of the piles of bleached oyster shells on the point.
This walking tour will visit Charleston’s oldest and finest homes in the Battery below Broad Street, an area that is virtually completely residential...
White Point Gardens
The point where the Ashley and Cooper rivers empty into the Atlantic Ocean was first used as a public garden in 1837. With the outbreak of the Civil War, it became a fortification for the city. At the corner of Murray Boulevard and East Battery Street is the Confederate Defenders of Charleston monument. Hermon Atkins MacNeil created this homage to the Confederate soldiers who served in the defense of Charleston during the War of Northern Aggression.
WALK WEST ALONG SOUTH BATTERY STREET.
4 South Battery
This dignified Beaux Arts confection was designed in 1895 by Frederick P. Dinkelberg, famous as the principal architect for the influential Flatiron Building in New York City. Dinkelberg intended it with family life in mind but the structure actually did duty as a luxury hotel after money man Andrew Simonds, a prosperous banker, died. After a stint as a base for the United Seaman’s Service during World War II, the house was transformed back to its intended use as a single-family residence.
Colonel William Washington House
8 South Battery
Thomas Savage built this house sometime before 1770 and, with its many additions and alterations, is the only pre-Revolutionary War dwelling on the Battery. It was sold in 1785 to Colonel William Washington, cousin of George Washington and hero of the battles of Cowpens and Eutaw Springs. Colonel Washington, who died in 1810 at the age of 58, was awarded a Congressional Medal for his gallantry in leading a decisive cavalry action on the field during the Battle of Cowpens.
20 South Battery
Samuel Stevens, a mercantile agent, built the original house on this property in 1843. After the Civil War, Colonel William Lathers, a native of Georgetown who made his fortune in New York, returned to help rebuild his native state and set up base in this house. Among other alterations he added a fish-scaled slate mansard roof with an arched dormer protrusion. Disillusioned at the continued ill will between the North and South, he sold the house after four years and returned to New York.
Nathaniel Russell Middleton House
22 South Battery
An 18th-century tenement was cleared so Nathaniel Russell Middleton, a president of the College of Charleston, could build this three-and-a-half-story stuccoed brick house in the mid-1850s.
Colonel John Algernon Sydney Ashe House
26 South Battery
John A.S. Ashe, a wealthy planter, banker and politician, inherited this lot as a young man in 1828, plus $10,000 to erect a dwelling. He didn’t get around to construction until he was in his fifties over 20 years later. Edward C. Jones created a smart Italianate design, one of the few surviving in the city that pre-dates the Civil War. The front facade highlights many of the hallmarks of this early Victorian style with arched wooden loggias, double-bracketed cornices and surmounting roof balustrades.
John Ashe House
32 South Battery
Still looking across the park from atop this three-story house is the original cupola from its construction during the Revolutionary War. The Georgian-style nine-over-nine double-sash windows and the entranceway may be originals as well. The double-tiered piazza supported by Tuscan piers is a later addition from the mid-1800s.
TURN RIGHT ON LEGARE STREET.
Sword Gate House
32 Legare Street
One of the must-see attractions in Charleston are the wrought-iron gates fronting this property on Legare Street boasting an elaborate sword-and-spear motif. The design was actually a mistake by ironworker Christopher Werner. The three-story house dates to the early 1800s.
Charles Elliott House
22 Legare Street
Charles Elliott, a well-to-do planter, built this city house in 1764, using thick masonry walls to help protect against fire. The house retains its 18th-century pedimented window hoods and dormers but boasts Neoclassical and Gothic woodwork under a Greek Revival piazza.
TURN RIGHT ON TRADD STREET. TURN LEFT ON MEETING STREET.
59 Meeting Street
Planter William Branford constructed this house in 1765 that stands as one of Charleston’s finest examples of a three-story brick double house almost 250 years later. In 1801 it was purchased by Thomas Horry, who had married Branford’s daughter. His son, Elias Horry, president of the South Carolina Canal and Railroad Company, inherited the house and gave the facade a makeover with two-story Regency-style porches. It was the Horry family home until 1853.
John Poyas House
69 Meeting Street
John Poyas, a physician, directed the construction of this Federal-style house in the 1790s; it is distinguished by its unusual height. The lot had been owned by the family of his wife Rachel since 1730. The house has more windows facing north than is typically experienced in Charleston, some speculate they were added after the earthquake of 1886.
South Carolina Society Hall
72 Meeting Street
The South Carolina Society was organized in 1737 by French Huguenot businessmen and artisans. They called themselves “The Two Bit Club,” as members agreed to weekly dues of two bits, or 15 pence, to the relief of a local tavern owner. Later the benevolent association established schools for orphans and indigent children. Built in 1804, the Hall was designed by Charlestonian Gabriel Manigault, a gentleman architect who introduced the Adamesque style to the city after studying in Europe. Manigault’s design for the Society’s headquarters, of which he was a member, consisted of a two-story brick building on a very high basement, dressed in stucco. The first floor contained three rooms in which a small school operated and the schoolmaster lived. A large meeting room and ballroom occupied the second floor. In 1825, the portico with Ionic columns over Doric columns was added.
TURN RIGHT ON ST. MICHAEL’S ALLEY. TURN RIGHT ON CHURCH STREET.
Alexander Christie House
92 Church Street
Building lots in the city of Charleston were pegged at 100 feet wide, which this space was when Alexander Christie bought it in 1805 and erected a brick Adamesque-styled house. The Scottish merchant died in 1823 and the house received a facelift in 1908.
Peter Leger House
90 Church Street
The core of this house dates to 1760 when it was raised by 28-year old merchant Peter Leger.
89-91 Church Street
The three-story, gray stucco tenement dates to 1750; the name came when residents began displaying vegetables for sale on the windowsills. In 1924, DuBose Heyward used the tenement as a model for “Catfish Row” in the novel Porgy that spawned the George Gershwin opera Porgy and Bess.
87 Church Street
Rice planter Daniel Heyward purchased the site in 1770 and his son, Thomas, began construction of this house a year later. He razed the single house that had been here since 1740 but retained the former two-story kitchen and one-story stable that are still in the rear courtyard.
TURN RIGHT ON TRADD STREET.
William Vanderhorst House
54 Tradd Street
Constructed around 1740 by William Vanderhorst, this three-story structure is considered one of the earliest examples of a Charleston single house. It still lacks a piazza which most of its later contemporaries acquired. The building is constructed of masonry and covered with stucco. Distinguished residents include Thomas W. Bacot, who served as Charleston’s fifth postmaster.
George Ducat House
60 Tradd Street
Here is another house dating to the 1740 time frame, constructed from brick and Bermuda stone for George Ducat, a shipbuilder.
TURN LEFT ON MEETING STREET.
James Simmons House
37 Meeting Street
James Simmons built this house around 1760 following a formal Georgian, center-hall plan. It was occupied by the British during the Revolution who did heavy damage before moving on. Through the 19th century it was heavily altered. The flanking bays flanking and iron balcony added are 1840s additions. During the Civil War the house became headquarters for General Pierre G.T. Beauregard, the commander of the Confederate forces in Charleston. When it sold in 2009, the Simmons House established a new price record on the Charleston peninsula - $7.375 million.
35 Meeting Street
The earliest portions of this much-altered house date to 1720, built by William Bull, the first lieutenant governor of the Royal Colony of South Carolina. William Bull Jr., who was Royal Governor of South Carolina Province from 1760 to 1761, 1764-1766, and 1773-1775 also lived in the three-and-half-story stuccoed brick dwelling.
Daniel Elliott Huger House
34 Meeting Street
Lord William Campbell, South Carolina’s last Royal Governor, lived in this house, built in 1760, during his abbreviated term that was rudely ended in 1775, the year it began. Shortly after the Revolution it came into the possession of the Huger (pronounced “U—Gee”) family, members of which still own it. Hugers have been prominent in South Carolina for generations. The Huger House is a good example of the unique Charleston “double house.” A flight of stone steps leads from the street to the elevated first floor, through which runs a large center hall, to the back door that opens onto a garden. The three-story piazza on the south side is a recent addition.
30 Meeting Street
Thomas Young started a masonry single house in 1770 on a lot that extended back to Church Street. Before he finished the house he sold it to Colonel Isaac Motte, an officer in the 60th Regiment of Foot, an English fighting force nicknamed the Royal Americans. The Greek Revival pedimented gable and three-part window came along in the 1840s.
William Mason Smith House
26 Meeting Street
Dating to 1821, the William Mason Smith House, is attributed to English architect William Jay who contributed several masterpieces to Savannah but whose activities in Charleston are less well known. Here he outfitted this Regency-style home with three different types of piazza columns.
Thomas Heyward House
18 Meeting Street
The Thomas Heyward House, built for a signer of the Declaration of Independence in 1803, is considered one of the most beautiful Charleston single houses. The facade features masterfully crafted brickwork in quoins and window headers.
16 Meeting Street
The Calhoun Mansion, a baronial Italianate manor house completed in 1876, was called by the Charleston News and Courier the “handsomest and most complete private residence in the south.” George Walter Williams, a local businessman who made his fortune importing sugar and molasses from the West Indies, spent $200,000 to build the largest house in city at 24,000 square feet. William P. Russell designed 14-foot ceilings, ornate plaster and wood moldings, exquisite chandeliers, and a music room illuminated by a 45-foot glass skylight. The “Calhoun” is Patrick Calhoun, a grandson of legendary South Carolina politician John C. Calhoun, who married one of the Williams daughters.
John Edwards House
15 Meeting House
John Edwards, a prominent politician and American patriot who was imprisoned by the British and exiled to St. Augustine, Florida for his role in the Revolution, built a typical Charleston double house circa 1770. It is unusual, however, for its cypress siding cut to look like stone.
11 Meeting Street
This 1850 Italianate house is covered with pink stucco scored to look like stone, which was a cheaper alternative to actually importing stone to the building site.
Josiah Smith House
7 Meeting Street
Josiah Smith, the descendant of one of Charleston’s oldest Congregationalist families and one of the city’s wealthiest merchants and bankers, built this Revolutionary-era house out of brick, which was actually cheaper than wood at the time. To placate his wife, he had the brick covered with the more fashionable clapboards. It features a Georgian facade with both a semi-circular portico and south-facing piazza.
2 Meeting Street
This house replaced a structure that was destroyed in the 1886 earthquake. Waring Carrington, a Charleston jeweler, supposedly used a $75,000 wedding gift to build this Queen Anne-style house on one of the most choicest lots in the city in 1892. The curving veranda slides gracefully around one end in a manner reminiscent of an early river boat.
George Robertson House
1 Meeting Street
The George Robertson House, one of city’s largest side hall plans, rose in 1846 on the site of a mansion that James Hoban, architect of the White House, had built for Senator Ralph Izard.
TURN LEFT ON SOUTH BATTERY AND TURN LEFT ON CHURCH STREET.
35 Church Street
Thomas Young bought this land in 1770 and built an early example of the Charleston single house, three stories in brick. The house gained notoriety after Dr. Joseph Johnson, president of the Second Bank of the United States and leader of the South Carolina Unionist Party during the nullification debate, purchased the property.
Dr. Vincent Le Seigneur House
38 Church Street
Dr. Vincent Le Seigneur, a native of Normandy and refugee from Santo Domingo, purchased this property in 1814. The Adamesque Style house had been completed two years earlier for grocery merchant George Keenan. Le Seigneur, who operated a hospital for slaves called the House of Health, expanded the house during his three decades of ownership until his death in 1846. It remained in a single family for 128 years after that. the crenelated tower is a 1902 addition.
George Eveleigh House
39 Church Street
George Eveleigh was a prosperous deerskin trader in Charles Town when he purchased a lot across Vanderhorst Creek, just outside the former city wall line. The creek was filled and is today Water Street; the mooring posts out front date to that time. He built his house back from the street in 1743; it has seen many alterations through the years.
Albert W. Todd House
41 Church Street
This splash of Colonial Revival architecture dates to 1909; note that the garage entrance goes through the base of the chimney.
Julius Lee House
53 Church Street
The masonry single house here dates to 1881 and is a typical example of a Charleston single house with a pilastered, closed-gable end and Tuscan-themed piazzas.
James Veree House
56-58-60 Church Street
This trio of wood frame houses were built in 1767 by Charleston master carpenter James Veree, a French Hugenot immigrant.
Thomas Rose House
59 Church Street
This early Georgian house is said to be haunted by the ghost of Dr. Joseph Brown Ladd who was mortally wounded in a duel in 1786.
First Baptist Church
61 Church Street
First Baptist Church, often referred to as the “Mother Church of Southern Baptists,” is the oldest Baptist Church in the South. The church was designed by Robert Mills, America’s first native-born trained architect and son of Charleston, and dedicated in 1822. Robert Mills considered the classically-inspired First Baptist Church to be “the best specimen of correct taste in architecture of all the modern buildings in this city.”
69 Church Street
Built in 1750 by Richard Capers, this Georgian double house was one of city’s largest pre-Revolution dwellings. It is notable because the windows are the same size on both the first and second floors.
Robert Brewton House
71 Church Street
The Robert Brewton House, first built in 1721, has been cited as city’s oldest but it may have been rebuilt after a 1740 fire.
TURN RIGHT ON TRADD STREET AND TURN RIGHT ON EAST BAY STREET THAT BECOMES EAST BATTERY.
George Chisholm House
39 East Battery
The George Chisholm House was built around 1810 and is a two and one-half story frame dwelling on a raised basement. In its 200-year life the entrance has been shifted from its original position in the far right bay.
29 East Battery
The Porcher-Simonds House is an 1850s creation for Francis J. Porcher and enlarged and remodeled in the early 1890s by John C. Simonds. Porcher was a cotton broker and after the Civil War was president of the Atlantic Phosphate Company. He was delegate to the South Carolina Secession convention in 1860. Simonds, who purchased the house in 1894, was a native of Abbeville where his father, Andre Simonds, was a banker. The family moved to Charleston in 1865 and the elder Simonds organized the First National Bank. The Simonds family sold the house in 1943. The house is depicted in an 1865 photograph as an Italianate style dwelling of two stories but it picked up an Italian Renaissance Revival makeover under the stewardship of the Simonds family.].
25 East Battery
This Victorian mansion was built in 1885 by Charles H. Drayton, who mined phosphate deposits at his family plantation, Drayton Hall, on the Ashley River. Medieval European and Chinese architectural influences come together in this structure, designed by Charleston architect W.B.W. Howe. When erected, the building’s white bricks with black mortar were exposed. Subsequently, the house was stuccoed.
21 East Battery
This Regency style house was built between 1817 and 1828 by Charles Edmondston, a native of the Shetland Islands who made his fortune as a merchant and wharf-owner. lt was purchased in 1838 by Charles Alston, a wealthy planter, who added features in the Greek Revival style such as the third level of the piazza and the roof parapet with his family coat of arms. The present cast iron balcony replaced an earlier one which was knocked down in the 1886 earthquake. During the last days of the Civil War, the house was headquarters for Union Major General Rufus Saxton.
Julius Visanka House
19 East Battery
This property was part of Lyttelton’s Bastion, built in 1757 and renamed Fort Darrell during the Revolutionary War. Fort Mechanic, named for the mechanics of the city who gave their labor to build it in 1794 when a French naval invasion (which never came) was expected, was also built on this site. Subsequently the Holmes House, a notable Adamesque mansion, was built at present-day 19 East Battery. A yellow brick mansion was built in 1920 for Julius M. Visanka on plans drawn by architect Albert Simons. Based on sumptuous Italian villas, it was one of the most expensive houses in Charleston.
William Ravenel House
13 East Battery
William Ravenel, a wealthy shipping merchant (brother and partner of John Ravenel who built 5 East Battery), produced this house in the 1840s. Only the arcaded base remains of the front portico, the giant classical columns which were shaken down in the 1886 earthquake and never replaced. After a hurricane in the 1950s, one of the massive capitals was found under an uprooted tree; apparently it had been driven deep into the soil by the force of its fall.
William Roper House
9 East Battery
Built in 1838 by Robert William Roper, this Greek Revival three-story brick structure boasts giant Ionic columns on an arcaded base. The initials in the front door are those of Rudolph Siegling, subsequent owner, who was the publisher of the News and Courier. He bought the house in 1877 and his heirs retained it until 1929. A 500-pound piece of cannon has been in the attic since 1865 when the evacuating Confederate forces blew up the gun on the corner of East Battery and South Battery.
John Ravenal House
5 East Battery
The three-story stuccoed brick house was built between 1847 and 1849 by John Ravenel who built up one of the city’s leading shipping houses. He was also president of the South Carolina Rail Road and was instrumental in developing the Northeastern Rail Road. His son, Dr. St. Julien Ravenel, designed and built the Civil War semi-submersible torpedo boat, the Lucy, and was a leader in the development of the phosphate fertilizer after the Civil War. The house was built in the Italianate style popular in Charleston in the antebellum period. The property remained in the hands of John Ravenel’s descendants until 1953, when it was sold.
Louis Desaussure House
1 East Battery
This three-story stuccoed brick mansion was built by Louis D. DeSaussure between 1858 and 1861. The house was damaged in February 1865, during the Confederate evacuation of the city, when a large gun was blown up. A fragment of the gun, it was said, was thrown upon the roof and lodged in the upper part of the house, where it was found when the building was repaired. DeSaussure, the builder, was an auctioneer who sold everything from ships to slaves. He retained the property until 1888, when it was sold to Bernard O’Neill, a prosperous wholesale grocer who had immigrated from Ireland about 1840. He was the grandfather of the famous local artist Elizabeth O’Neill Verner. The O’Neill family retained the house until 1926, when it was sold to Mrs. Robert E. Lee, lll, wife of the grandson of the Confederate general. Currently, the house is divided into three residences.
YOU HAVE NOW RETURNED TO YOUR STARTING POINT IN WHITE POINT GARDENS.