The Aiken-Rhett House is my favorite historic site in downtown Charleston. If you can only choose one to visit, I highly recommend this one.
What makes it so wonderful is the preserved patina of the entire place. All of the other house museums have been restored back to their original splendor, but this one has been preserved in the shape Historic Charleston Foundation acquired it.
Walking into the Aiken Rhett House is like visiting the house of an eccentric great aunt who just passed away and seeing the house as she lived in it. There is only a little bit of furniture, the wallpaper is peeling, and the floors are dusty and wonderful.
The home also contains the original kitchens, stables, and slave housing, and you can actually go in a look around. It is like nothing I have ever seen. As far as I know, no other public houses have anything like this. You can actually walk into the rooms that the slaves lived in. It will truly give you an excellent understanding of what life was like for enslaved African Americans.
It is complimented by a wonderful audio tour that comes with the price of admission, allowing you to go at your own pace and assuring you a great tour every time.
Open 10am to 5pm Monday to Saturday and 2 to 5pm Sunday. Admission is $10, and you can get a discounted joint admission with the Nathaniel Russel house.