With a wide range of historical buildings representing architecture that dates to the 1800s and earlier, Charleston presents one of the best ways to experience the earliest days of America. Nowhere is that more obvious than in the Aiken-Rhett house—now the Aiken-Rhett House and Museum. While the house may have just been another dot in the landscape in the 1800s, its timeless architecture and unique history have made it one of the best reasons to visit the Holy City’s famous historic district.
A Brief History of the Aiken-Rhett House and Museum
William Aiken was an Irish immigrant living in Charleston at the beginning of the 19th century. One of the city’s most prominent businessmen, he purchased the Aiken-Rhett House (then the home of John Robinson) in 1820. Robinson had to pay off losses he incurred when five of his ships were lost at sea.
Aiken’s son, William Aiken, Jr., and his wife Harriet eventually inherited the property. Though his father had used it for rental income, Aiken decided to make it a permanent residence by renovating it in the 1830’s. The renovation included a large addition that caught the attention of Charleston society.
Perhaps the most notable addition came when Aiken, who had become governor of South Carolina, commissioned an art gallery for the property. Aiken would fill the gallery with items he found when traveling through Europe. It quickly became famous as the only gallery of its kind in the city.
The Aiken-Rhett House Today
The Aiken-Rhett House eventually earned its double name from Major A.B. Rhett, a son-in-law of the Aiken family, who raised five children in the home in the late 19th century. Today, the property has been maintained as a museum for people to visit, with hours available on most days, excluding holidays.
The Aiken-Rhett House stands as an example of 19th century architecture, and the interior has been maintained to preserve some of the authenticity of how the home looked throughout history. And thanks to additions in the form of artwork and considerable contributions to the home library, there are a lot of treasured possessions that make the house worth your visit.
Why Visit the Aiken-Rhett House?
A visit to the Aiken-Rhett House will yield some great historical treasures you can’t find at any other home / museum in the area. Visiting the house offers a rich experience of Charleston’s history and gives visitors the feeling that they’ve been genuinely transported back in time to a different age.
If you want to experience Charleston’s famous historic district, there’s no better way than with a carriage ride. Book a tour with Charleston Carriage Works today.