Built in 1905, The Gibbes Museum of Art refers to the dome that crowns the Rotunda Gallery as “Tiffany Era.” It seems the sought after Tiffany markings are not to be found based on the museum’s news articles about a recent renovation that included cleaning the dome.
I took the image above standing on the big fleur-de-lis in this next image and looking up. I wanted to lay on the floor but thought it might be frowned on.
The floor is tile, that was (gasp!) covered in brown linoleum along with the beautiful woodwork being painted white sometime in the 1950s or early 1960.
This view out the huge windows in the front shows a hint of the neighboring Circular Church, another architectural beauty in Charleston.
The front window of this bridal shop on Church Street in Charleston is always filled with luxurious wedding wear, but is difficult to photograph. Glare, reflections of cars parked across the street, and folks passing by are detractors.
Fortunately for those wanting a more intimate peek of it’s offerings (yes, me!) the shop has taken marketing advantage of its windows on the side street.
The gowns are elegant even on a headless, limbless dress form.
An entire rack of taffeta, lace and sparkle draws my eye and the bridal march is playing in my head.
The Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist was open the day I discovered it and as I stepped inside I was somewhat overcome by the size. Many of Charleston’s churches welcome visitors to view their interiors, often with knowledgeable guides on hand, as well as for spiritual reasons.
I saw no one here, and saw no welcome sign, either. The interior is an amazing work of art and craftsmanship. I took a few images and went on my way.
On a trip into Charleston last month I walked down a section of Broad Street that I had somehow missed before and discovered the massive Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist. The first cornerstone for a church on this spot was laid in 1850 and an 1100 seat cathedral was consecrated in 1854. Six years later it burned to the ground in The Great Charleston Fire of 1861. Decades of fundraising culminated in the present day Gothic building being started in 1890.
I was delighted to find that the structure is Connecticut tool-chiseled brownstone. In Connecticut, Ted and I lived only a few of miles from the now defunct Portland Brownstone Quarry. This stone was used all over the US starting in the late 1700s, reaching the peak of its popularity in the mid 1890s. It is most famous as the namesake of the New York City and Boston “Brownstones.”
Zoom in on any one of these images to see the detail of the tooling. I need to go back to capture some of the material detail.
The building is impressive in its size, 200 feet long, 80 feet wide, and 167 feet to the tall. There was supposed to be a spire, but lack of funding kept that from being completed.
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.
The Aiken-Rhett House is a historic museum in downtown Charleston, SC. Last renovated in the 1850s the house is full of well crafted details, many you have to crane your neck to see. The back stairwell is crowned by a ceiling medallion three flours up.
Most of the rooms are big, with high ceilings. This drawing room sported one of many large chandeliers in the house. The gigantic mirror and its gilding would help reflect the light into the room.
This metal chandelier had a simpler ceiling medallion. but the room was well decorated with crown molding and carved woodwork.
Ringed by these serious faces, this light fixture was never upgraded from gas fuel, even though the house was occupied by Aiken descendants into the 1970s.
Light was enhanced in the home’s art gallery with a skylight that had its own ceiling decorations.
The four sides of the skylight have windows to capture light indirectly, protecting the art work. This image taken out a window on the second floor shows the skylight from the outside.