Joseph Manigault came from a long line of very successful merchant French Huguenots who fled Europe escaping religious persecution. In 1778 he and his brother, Gabriel inherited their grandfather’s (Gabriel Manigault) massive estate that included 40,000 acres and 500 slaves. The brothers were educated in Geneva and London and Gabriel was an architect. He is credited with the work done on Charleston City Hall and the Society Hall I mentioned earlier.
That same year he would marry Maria Henrietta Middleton, who was the daughter of Author Middleton of Middleton Place. Tragedy she died in 1791. In 1800 he married Charlotte Drayton (of the Drayton family of Drayton Hall). They would go on to have 8 children. He was a member of the state legislature and a trustee of the College of Charleston.
In 1802 Joseph acquired the corner lot on Meeting and John streets where he built his incredible mansion. It was situated within the 79 acres of land which was owned by his uncle, John Wagg. It was called Wraggborough. He had inherited about half of the acreage and purchased the other half from his sister, Anne. The house was built between 1803 and 1807 and was the first home to be built in that neighborhood. The house was designed by his brother Gabriel. Gabriel was influenced by Scottish Architect Robert Adam, who introduced the neoclassical style to British architects. The influence of Adam can be seen though the house.
The house is built in the popular Federal style. The home features two-story portico, curved bays, detailed wood work, high ceilings, an incredible curving central stair case, and high ceilings. There is a mantel frieze that includes the goddess Demeter and the Cupids. Among the elegant furnishings guests can see one of the famed Charleston rice beds. There is a collection of Charleston furniture as well as pieces from France and England. The home has been restored to its original color scheme which is decorated with beautiful and often unusual color palettes.
There is a lovely garden outside and an incredible Temple Gate. In front you can see the areas where the privies, kitchen, slave quarters, and stables once were.
The home stayed in the family until 1852. It went through a number of owners and uses including a boarding house, a USO canteen, a gas station, and a dance hall. In 1920 one of Charleston’s earliest perseveration groups, the Society for the Preservation of Old Dwellings, purchased the home. In 1933 the home was purchased by the Charleston Museum and was open to the public as a house museum in 1949. In 1974 it was designated as a National Historic Landmark.
You can purchase tickets for just the house or combined with the museum and the Heywood-Washington Home.
Admission $10 (a) $16 for 2 attractions $22 for all three attractions.
$5 for children for each attraction. Under 2 free.
Hours: Monday-Saturday 10-5 (last ticket sold at 4:30)
Sunday 1-5 (last ticket sold at 4:30).
There is no parking on the property. The home is near the visitor’s center and there is parking there. There are no public restrooms but the Charleston Museum sits across from the home and they do have public restrooms as well as a gift shop. Tickets can be purchased at either the house or the museum. Due to the nature of the home it is not handicapped accessible and you must be able to climb stairs to enjoy the home. You must be on a guided tour to see the home.
South Carolina’s Plantations & Historic Homes by Paul Franklin and Nancy Mikula. 2006. Voyageur Press.
Marvelous Old Mansions and other Southern Treasures Sylvia Higginbotham. 2001. John F. Blair Publishing.
Bob Vila’s Guide tip Historic Homes of the South . 1993. Lintel Press.
The National Geographic Guide to America’s Great Houses Henry Wiencek & Donna Lucey. 1999. National Geographic Society.
The home is a look an inside the grand and opulent lifestyles of the successful low country rice planters. Historic house lovers will love the graceful and elegant furnishings of this centuries old home. In fact you just have to have an appreciation of old homes to enjoy this gem.
350 Meeting St.
Very highly recommended