Elizabeth Street is the main entrance of the Aiken-Rhett House , making it appear more modest than it is. Many Charleston streets have the houses arranged this way, with the narrow part of the house facing the street. This was done to maximize space, not reduce taxes as the myth is often told.
This house is a little unusual as it sits at an intersection so there is no house immediately to the right and that it encompasses a “townhouse complex” that includes several outbuildings which indicate the original owner’s wealth. The orange color is also not the norm.
Wide piazzas on the first two main levels of the house run the length of the building. Below is the first level, with one of the enormous windows open, which serves as a door from the drawing room onto the piazza. Manipulating the breeze was essential to comfort during Charleston’s humid summers.
Large windows with shutters were used throughout the buildings, including this one that housed the kitchen, laundry, and slave quarters.
The property, encompassing just over one half acre per Charleston County records, runs all the way from Judith Street on the piazza side of the house to Ann Street.
A privy stood in each back corner of the property. The photo below was taken from inside one of these little buildings.
At one time the entrance from Ann Street was lined with a row of Live Oaks, making a stately entrance through a gate for the horse drawn carriages. Horses were stabled along with their carriages in the building on the right below. Additional slave quarters were overhead.
Click on any photo for larger view.