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Charleston Sights

Aiken-Rhett House

Updated 09/24/2012

Fodor's Review

One of Charleston's most stately mansions, built in 1820 and virtually unaltered since 1858, has been preserved rather than restored, meaning visitors can see its original wallpaper, paint schemes, and some furnishings. Two of the former owners, Governor Aiken and his wife, Harriet—lovers of all things foreign and beautiful—bought many of the chandeliers, sculptures, and paintings in Europe. Out back, the kitchen, slave quarters, and work yard are much as they were

when the original occupants lived here, making this the most intact mansion and accompanying outbuildings to showcase urban life in antebellum Charleston. Take the audio tour, as it vividly describes both the ornate rooms and the slaves', giving historical and family details throughout.

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Sight Information

Address:

48 Elizabeth St., Charleston, South Carolina, 29401, USA

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Phone:

843-723–1159

Sight Details:

  • $10; $16 with admission to Nathaniel Russell House
  • Mon.–Sat. 10–5, Sun. 2–5; last tour at 4:15

Updated 09/24/2012

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Fodorite Reviews

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Mar 31, 2009

Unusual, excellent historic house

One of the most interesting of the houses to tour in this city. Unlike the rest, the house is not restored inside and still has its original out-buildings. Despite this, there's a wealth of architectural detail inside and interesting, if faded, family furnishings. There are some period art reproductions inside its old art gallery. A must for this kind of attraction.

By Marsha

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Dec 2, 2004

The Totality of Antebellum Urban Life

If all you want to see in Charleston is pretty old houses, then Aiken-Rhett is not for you. As other reviewers have mentioned, the house has been preserved rather than restored. It is musty and dark. That said, this fact made Aiken-Rhett by far the most evocative of all the historic houses I visited in Charleston (including the Heyward-Washington house, the Nathaniel Russell house, and the Edmonston-Alston house, each of which is worth visiting).

Moreover, this property is the only antebellum city house to have its dependencies (stables, washhouse and attendant slave quarters) and functional yard intact. These features really help give a picture of what life was like for all inhabitants of a wealthy, antebellum town house. For the totality of the historical experience and for the fact that it *doesn't* give you a modern idea of what a 19th or 18th century house looked like (unlike the forementioned restored properties), Aiken-Rhett is a unique, not-to-be-missed experience.

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