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South Carolina

Two Portraits of Charleston’s Past

Nestled on the streets of one of America’s oldest cities are two portraits of the mercantile elites of Charleston. These portraits take the form of nineteenth century townhomes, which have been meticulously put back to their former glory by the Charleston Historical Foundation. The Aiken-Rhett and Nathaniel Russell Houses are two of the most exciting museum tours in Charleston.

The Aiken-Rhett House was first constructed in 1820 by wealthy merchant John Robinson. The home was later sold to and greatly expanded by Governor Aiken Jr. and his wife first in the 1830s and then again in the 1850s. The home remained in the Aiken family for over one-hundred and forty years before being sold to the Charleston museum in 1975. The home was eventually given to the Historic Charleston Foundation who own and operate it today. The house has been completely restored to the way it looked in the mid-nineteenth century. The tour includes views to all of the luxurious rooms of the house complete with their original furnishings and decor. The house also has an art gallery complete with numerous pieces the Aiken family collected from Europe and a slave quarters. For additional information and ticket prices, click here.

The Nathaniel Russell House is another exciting tour offered by the Historic Charleston Foundation. Wealthy merchant Nathaniel Russell built the home in 1808 and construction took about five years and cost a small fortune. The home is remarkable for its three story spiral staircase and its elaborate plaster ornamentation. The house is also complete with numerous works of art and a garden for guests to walk around. Unlike the Aiken-Rhett House, this museum is still in the process of being restored. However, this gives guests the unique opportunity to witness how talented craftspeople and forensic analysis is used to restore these timeless treasures. For additional information and ticket prices, click here.

The Aiken-Rhett and Nathaniel Russell Houses are two of the most unique and popular museum tours in Charleston. These homes provide guests the unique chance to look back into America’s past. Whether you are interested in history, architecture, or art these tours offer something for everyone.


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