House museum built in the Georgian Style
This house museum is a great example of Georgian architecture, a style popular from just before the American Revolution through about the 1820's. Similar to other houses of the same style, this building has a square and symmetrical facade, a door that is centered with a triangular pediment above, a hipped roof, and five windows across the front. Built in 1772, this double house was named for its owner, Thomas Heyward, Jr., a signer of the Declaration of Independence, as well as one time visitor, George Washington. The house's history of illustrious residents continues with Sarah and Angelina Grimke, the famous abolitionists and suffragettes, who grew up here for a time. It's history almost pales in comparison to its beauty, from it's flawless back garden to it's world class collection of antique furniture, none of which would likely still exist, were it not for Susan Pringle Frost. In 1920, the Joseph Manigault House was set to be demolished in favor of a gas station. Believing the city's historic dwellings should be preserved, Frost gathered a group at her house for the first meeting of what would become the Preservation Society in order to save the old home. Her efforts paid off because the house was saved and turned into the city's first house museum that you can still tour to this day.
87 Church St, Charleston, SC
Intimate French gem in a converted single house
Each day, the kitchen creates a new menu of two appetizers, two entrees and two desserts for you to choose from. While the food is worth the trip alone, you have the added benefit of being able to eat inside a classic Charleston single house. These iconic homes are one room wide with two rooms on each floor divided by a central hallway and staircase. When you enter the first exterior door, instead of being deposited inside you are in the south facing piazza along the side of the house, a feature added to capture the southerly breeze that makes the sub-tropical summer more bearable. And yes you read that right, they are not porches here, they are piazzas.
Nathaniel Russell House
Opulent and impeccably restored Federal mansion
After the American Revolution, the Federal style of building became prominent in the area through about the 1820's. Like many other Federal homes, this house has a fanlight over the door, narrow windows, and an asymmetrical floor plan. Nathaniel Russell spared no expense when constructing his elaborate home that was considered one of the finest in its day. The crown jewel of the structure is the three-story, free-standing staircase, but the most moving part of tour is the stop at the cramped living quarters of the enslaved workers, which are in stark contrast to the lavish home.
51 Meeting St, Charleston, SC
Popular working class housing style in the 1800's
Like the single house, Freedman's Cottages have a side piazza, gable roof, and are one room wide. Unlike single houses, they are only a single story, so instead of a hallway and staircase separating the two rooms, they open up onto each other, with a double sided fireplace in between. Sometimes called Carolina Cottages, these houses were popular not just with newly freed African-Americans, but also with the larger working class in general, including many Irish and German immigrants who arrived after the Civil War. By the early 1900’s, there were more than 1,000 homes of this style in the area, but because these houses were built outside of the historic district, most have been torn down and fewer than 30 remain today.
Romantic fine dining in a Victorian carriage house
This luxurious restaurant in the carriage house of the Wentworth Mansion is a decadent splurge that is well worth it. The menu is broken into four parts: dishes with Native American, African, and European influence, that all contribute to the fourth section, South Carolina today for a true Southern meal. Before you, leave, take a look at the rest of the Wentworth Mansion, which is a great example of Victorian architecture. Built in 1886, this building that is now a hotel has a mansard roof with a cupola on top as well as many other ornate and fine details throughout that are indicative of the style.
149 Wentworth St, Charleston, SC
Classic Southern food in a converted victorian home
This iconic Charleston eatery in a converted Victorian home is the go to place for Southern dishes and Lowcountry charm. Before you even walk in the front door, you will notice that the ceiling is painted a nice light blue, known as Haint Blue. Dating back many decades, the Gullah people painted parts of their houses this color to prevent haints or spirits from coming inside. People started painting their piazza roofs the same color hoping it kept mosquitos out too, which it actually did because the lye used in the paint is poisonous to bugs. This is the perfect place to sample local favorites like She-Crab Soup, Pimento Cheese Fritters, and as many biscuits as you can eat. They serve a very popular brunch seven days a week as well as an equally as delicious dinner. Reservations are highly recommended.