Those who know the history of Charleston know that it has no shortage of historic homes and sites worth checking out on a visit. But there’s something singular about the Edmondston-Alston House in Charleston, SC that warrants a closer look. Why? Well it’s certainly visually striking, but its connection to Charleston’s intriguing history is what really makes it a must-see attraction. History and Civil War buffs can gain a bird’s eye view of the war from the place it all started!
The Edmondston-Alston House: The Early Days
First constructed in the 1820s, the Edmondston-Alston House sits on the old site of Fort Mechanic, which had been active in the late 1700s. A Scottish immigrant by the name of Charles Edmondston purchased the lot early in the 1800s—even though the investment wouldn’t promise to pay off unless a sea wall could be erected to improve the quality of the land.
The construction lasted throughout the 1820s until completion in 1828. Even if there were no history there, the site would be impressive: the three-story home features a quality view of the beautiful Charleston harbor thanks to its location on High Battery. In fact, there may be no better view of the area in Charleston thanks to its proximity to the harbor itself. That quality view lasts to this day. One quick look the other way will yield a view of the harbor and the Atlantic ocean beyond, making the area a must-visit even before you consider the historical context!
The House During the Civil War
Edmondston’s House went through a few owners, from which it added the name “Alston” to its title. But the most interesting period of history for this house was undoubtedly before and during the Civil War, in which a number of events happened.
First, the Civil War almost started on the porch of this house! General P.T. Beauregard, who gave the command to fire upon Fort Sumter—the first shots of the Civil War—watched the action from the Edmondston-Alston house in 1861. Later that year, famous Confederate General Robert E. Lee stayed at the Edmondston-Alston house during a devastating city fire.
The house even flipped sides when it was captured and used by Union General Rufus Saxton in 1865, toward the end of the Civil War. It’s amazing how you can read much of the history of the Civil War from just one spot! Visiting the house offers a glance at the close proximity to where the war first began and how many southern cities came under Union control. The richness of Civil War history you can find here is eclipsed only by those famous sites like Appomattox, where the surrender of the Confederacy was signed.
The Edmondston-Alston House Today
Like many of Charleston’s historical sites, the house is now run as a museum that is open to the public. Guided tours are available on most weekdays.
If you want to experience even more of Charleston’s rich history from the classic comfort of a horse-drawn carriage, Book a Tour with us through Charleston’s famous historic district!