This is perhaps the most remarkable home on Charleston's downtown waterfront. Listed on the National Register of Historic ... More
This is perhaps the most remarkable home on Charleston's downtown waterfront. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Aiken-Rhett House is a revealing architectural portrait of the antebellum South. Owned at one time by wealthy planter and former South Carolina governor William Aiken, the house is decorated with fine examples of classical art and sculpture. Around the home, the original servants quarters, sheds, kitchens, and stables reveal a fuller view of Charleston city life in the 1800s. The courtyard adjoining the house is used for a variety of events and programs as well.
We are frequent visitors to Charleston, but have never had the pleasure or experience of touring this house. We thought the fact that the house has not been updated to "modern" times was very informative and similar to our experience at Drayton Hall. This is not the house to go to if you're looking for a house out of Gone with the Wind. It is a house that continues to offer a glimpse of its history, engineering and past. We were totally impressed with both the out buildings and the residence itself. It offers a view of life in Charleston that we have not seen in any of the other Charleston homes. We hope to go back and see it again on a future trip to Charleston.
This house is NOT furnished. There are only a few pieces here and there. It was badly damaged in Hurricane Hugo in 1980 and no attempt has been made to repair blistered paint and other damage.
I like to see a house the way the inhabitants saw it. This was like Tara after the war. Ghastly. The color brochure implies it is lovely. That is a lie.
My husband and I visited Charleston for the first time in the summer of 2006 for a week's vacation. There were so many things on our "to do" list,and although we could have gone on a number of plantation tours,we both feel that the Aiken-Rhett House was worth the visit. Being African-Americans I felt that it was necessary to visit a part of our historical roots even though to some this is an area that would best be forgotten. I agree that the plantation was not in the best shape,but considering that it survived a hurricane is a testament to how well it was constructed. I can only imagine seeing the Aiken-Rhett in all its glory as she once proudly stood. The cassette taped narration was great because it along with your own imagination and the visuals was breath-taking. I must admit that I was overwhelmed with emotion and couldn't help but to cry due to the fact that I knew that I was walking in areas that once people who looked like me walked. Save the grace of God,this could have been my plight to have been a slave and Aiken-Rhett been my "home". Aside from the emotional drain,I enjoyed the tour tremendously and would recommend everyone to visit a part of our nation's history. I honestly can't figure out why this isn't a tour that's aimed at school children. We live in a diverse country,and in order to better understand each other we need to literally be able to "walk in someone else's shoes". Taking this tour will allow you to do just that.I walked away somewhat proud of my ancestors to not only see what they had built and sustained with their own blood,sweat,and tears but it fortified my inner strength to reaffirm that there is no obstacle that I cannot overcome.If my ancestors survived the horrors of such a time,I have nothing to keep me down today.That's the epiphany that I had as I toured the Aiken-Rhett House.No one entering those doors should leave unchanged. In closing,it was an experience that I won't forget because I felt an energy there which I can't explain.To all African-Americans I say to go and visit our history and see what our people built.
The house is just gorgeous. Plenty of things to see and the house is completely furnished and decorated as it was back then. Simply just gorgeous. You are definately getting what you paid for. Can't wait to go back.
First, I'll warn you now -- if you have allergies or are sensitive to musty, mildewy places, the Aiken-Rhett house is not for you. It literally has been left in the decayed state that was left after the last owner moved out. I probably would have appreciated the house more if I was not so uncomfortable.
Those looking for pure Civil-War-Era, unrestored history won't find it here, either -- the house was occupied well into the 20th century, so has some "improvements" like utilitarian bathrooms, which don't fit with the decayed elegance of the rest of the house. There are random bits of furniture still present.
The outbuildings and courtyard are interesting. You can tour the slave quarters, but the carriage houses are off-limits -- you must view the buggies, etc., through the open doors.
If you've only got time to tour just one house in the Charleston area, this should be it. I have visited Charleston seven times and it is my favorite and I go to the Aiken-Rhett house every time. The house does have some furnishings, but has not been all fancied up like some others. You don't have a tour guide and you don't go in groups. You wear a recorded headset that takes you through the house. The background music really makes you step back in time. You will also go out back to walk through the slave corters. Very interesting. If you are lucky enough to visit Charleston. This is a MUST!
Visiting the Aiken-Rhett house is an awe inspiring experience. This home is literally untouched since its previous owner moved out. She had shut the doors on many rooms leaving them as they were. It is haunting and you feel as if you are walking on someones grave. I felt as if I had stepped back in time and was viewing Charleston life as an outsider looking in. Perhaps the most haunting room for me was the art gallery. It has this almost mystical and magical hold over you. I stood in the room for several minutes entranced by its magnificence. Aiken-Rhett is definitely not an experience to miss, I can't wait to see it again.
The Aiken-Rhett Mansion gives you a view of city life in Charleston before, during and after the Civil War. The house is just as it was left, with carriages and buggies still in the carriage house, books still on the shelves in the library. It is not restored, wallpaper is peeling off, but you will really get a sense of the people who lived here and the times they lived in--from the governor's family with their own art gallery to the slaves who lived above the carriage house and the kitchen. (Also there is a very good gift shop in the basement.)
As a former Charlestonian, I appreciate all the house museums, but this one is particularly interesting. I have visited it numerous times and always enjoy seeing it again myself, as well as taking friends to see it, too.
The only thing about Charleston is the heat and humidity, which is constant. Very uncomfortable if you are not used to it. Being from the Midwest, we get some of the heat and humidity also, but they don't seem to get a reprieve or break from it. Still, Charleston is a wonderful place to vacation.
There is lots to do, the food is tops(we did not have even one bad meal; they were all fantastic, lots of seafood as you would expect. The Hyman House is exceptionally good (we ate there twice) and price is reasonable also.
The ocean is close so you can enjoy that also. We spent a morning on the beach and just sat in shallow water and let the waves roll over us. Refreshing.
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