The Aiken-Rhett house is the northernmost site on Charleston’s Museum Mile and is one of the best preserved mansions in the area. It is a perfect representation of urban life in antebellum Charleston and one of the many impressive historical sites you will have a chance to see on your carriage tour of charming Charleston.
The Aiken-Rhett house was built in 1817 on 48 Elizabeth Street for a local merchant by the name of John Robinson, but any original pieces of art or exquisite furnishings still existing in the mansion today would have belonged to Governor and Mrs. William Aiken Jr. The Governor and his wife purchased the home in 1827 when John Robinson lost five ships in his fleet and was forced to sell. The Williams family began expanding and renovating the home in the 1830’s.
William Aiken was one of the wealthiest citizens of South Carolina and it was during his trips to Europe with his wife that he collected many of the magnificent pieces that are, in some cases, still in the same rooms they were placed in when he owned the home. These pieces can still be seen today if you return to the home for a tour after your historic Charleston carriage ride is complete.
The Aiken-Rhett house has survived the years in remarkable condition having been carefully cared for since 1858, after the William’s family completed the second expansion. Pride of family and ownership helped to keep the mansion in good condition as it remained in the Williams family all the way until 1975. At this time the home was donated to the Charleston Museum and later bought by the Charleston Foundation in 1995.
Today you can tour the home, taking in the amazing architecture of the time while learning about the history of the mansion. Your tour guide on your historical Charleston carriage ride will be able to tell you all about this well preserved piece of history as you experience all the historic charm the city of Charleston has to offer.