Heyward-Washington House: Charleston’s Link to the Founding Fathers

There are few monuments and historical sites in Charleston, SC with such direct ties to the founding of the country. If you’re a history buff, then there may be no site on your “must-see” list while visiting the Holy City like the Heyward-Washington House.

The History of the Heyward-Washington House

It all begins with Thomas Heyward Jr., a member of the Continental Congress in 1775. Heyward was a fervent patriot, even to the point of serving in the war himself as an artillery officer in the South Carolina militia (he would later be captured by the British when they captured Charleston in 1780, eventually released in 1781). In 1776, Heyward became one of four representatives from South Carolina to sign the Declaration of Independence.

It was Heyward who originally built the house that still bears his name in 1772. The home is a “double house” in a classic Georgian style that still stands as a pure representation of architectural style during the colonial and Revolutionary eras. The house took on the name of “Washington” thanks to a visit from the nation’s first president in 1791. Not long after, Heyward sold the house to the Grimkes, themselves famous historical figures thanks to their commitment to the abolitionist cause. Turned into a museum in 1930 after being acquired the year before, the site became the first museum house in Charleston, garnering National Historic Landmark status in the 1970s.

Visiting the Heyward-Washington House Today

Visiting the Heyward-Washington house today is like being transported back in time. The museum has maintained an authentic atmosphere all around the premises, including:

  • A 1740s kitchen building—the only one the public can access in all of Charleston—giving a hint of what culinary life was like in the 1700s
  • Authentic-style furnishings in interior living rooms and studies
  • Gardens on the premises including plants that were often grown in South Carolina during the period

A visit to the Heyward-Washington House provides an opportunity to live the history of Charleston first-hand. The site is such a popular attraction for tourists from Charleston and around the country.

Experiencing Charleston’s Historic Side

Charleston is one of those rare cities in America that has enough history to last you even through multiple visits. The Heyward-Washington House and museum experience is unique in that it offers a direct connection to so much national history as well as local history.

Another great way to experience the history of Charleston? A Charleston carriage tour! Ride the streets in a horse-drawn carriage and soak in the history as your guide tells you all about the unique attractions and features of this wonderful city. Charleston Carriage Works offers regular rides through Charleston’s historic districts, often including sites just like the Heyward-Washington house—depending on routes as defined by the city’s lottery system.

Book your tour today!