5.09.2011

Charleston Mansions

For our last morning in Charleston, we took a walk around the historic district, admiring all the stately homes.

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Many were built in the 1700 and 1800's and still have families living there - often descendants of the original owners.

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And they are HUGE; three or four stories tall and going back a full city block.

We picked our three favorites to tour. The Nathaniel Russell House,

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finished in 1808, is completely restored and features a gorgeous 3-story cantilevered (free-standing) staircase, along with beautiful gardens.

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The Calhoun Mansion was nicknamed by our tour guide as the "OMG House" and he was not mistaken.

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The newish owners have fully restored the 28,000 (!!) sq. ft house and filled it, in the Victorian style, with over 9 tractor trailer loads of furnishings, all of them beautiful, unique and very expensive.

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Like a marble table that at one time belonged to the Russian Imperial family. And an antique polar bear rug, hung over the 3rd floor banister so it was visible from all three floors.

And beautiful, fountain-filled gardens, of course. A truly stunning home.

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The last one we toured was the Aiken-Rhett House, built in 1820.

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The outside was recently restored but the interior is being preserved as it was when the family turned it over to the Historic Charleston Foundation in the 1970's, basically unaltered since 1858.

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It was interesting to see how the home was constructed and how it has survived, but it was also sad. Such an impressive home in it's heyday; 4 stories, running a full city block from front to back, with stables, slave quarters and two of the prettiest privies I've seen (the brick work, anyway).

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We're spending tonight in Spartanburg, in the northern part of the state. Tomorrow we plan to do a scenic drive through the Blue Ridge Mountains, including the only covered bridge still standing in S. Carolina.