This grand Georgian style home was built in 1772 by Daniel Heyward as a wedding present for his son, Thomas. Thomas was a wealthy lawyer who had been called to the English Bar in 1770 and the Carolina Bar the following year. He was a member of the Second Continental Congress and his signature can be seen on the Deceleration of Independence. He was also an officer with the SC Militia and was wounded in 1779 at the Battle of Port Royal. Thomas was subsequently captured by British forces when Charleston was invaded in 1780 and was promptly exiled to St. Augustine. In 1781 he was exchanged and returned to his Charleston home to be with his family. While he was exiled his wife Elizabeth continued to live in the home.
The floor plan of the home is known as the Charleston double house. This consists of square rooms at each corner and a central staircase. The exterior of this home seems stark compared to the other historical mansions It lacks any ornamentation, porticos, or columns. Inside is another matter entirely. The home showcases some of the finest woodwork in the city and some of the best examples of Charleston furniture. It is believed that Thomas engaged the services of Charleston cabinetmaker, Thomas Elfie, to create the intricate wood work displayed throughout the house. The fret work over the mantle in the drawing room shows the fine work that was being done by Charleston artists. There is a settee, chair, and marble-top table that were part of the original furnishings of Drayton Hall and date to about 1740. There are two particular rare finds here. One is the superlative library bookcase which is a Holmes bookcase. The eye-catching Maghoney bookcase stands almost 11 feet high and pretty much takes up the whole wall of the back room. It features inlaid satinwood scrolls and ivory bellflowers.
The second rare piece of furniture is a traveling case. What appears to be a gorgeous chest of drawers is actually the precursor to our modern day matching luggage. The chest would have been broken down and the trunks used for the family when they traveled and then could be stacked back up when not traveling. There are only 2 examples of these drawers left in the country.
The home also has carriage stables with a well underneath. The kitchen building dates from 1740 is the only preserved building of its kind in Charleston. There is also an incredible formal garden in the back. The gardens were established in the 1930’s to reflective life in the 18th centenary. One of the most accurate gardens is the vegetable gardens which have plants and vegetables that would have been used for the household table as well as medicinal purposes.
Now unlike many other mansions with hyphened monikers, the Washington in Heyward-Washington did not come from a second owner. It came from our founding father George Washington himself. He stayed here for a week in April 1791 while touring the south. He was enchanted by the lovely city and the citizens them selves. Something Charlestonians still pride themselves on over 200 years later.
The home was sold in 1794 and in 1803, Judge Grimke purchased the home. He lived here with his wife and sister in-law who were both activate abolitionists. They also helped found the feminist movement in America. In 1840 it was declared that they would be arrested if the ever returned to Charleston. They never did and the house was subsequently sold. The home underwent a series of owners and was used as a bakery and boarding house. The Charleston Museum purchased the home in 1929 and opened it the public as a house museum.
When you first arrive at the home you must ring a bell and wait for someone to answer. You will be let in the home and you will wait for the next tour. In our case the next tour was about ready to start. But if you arrive and the next tour doesn’t go for a few minutes you may wait outside and enjoy the beautiful gardens and out buildings in the back. You do have to take part in the tour in order to see the house. Our guide for the visit was Ellen who certainly was a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the house and Charleston it’s self.
The lovely neighborhood was used by Dubose Hayward for Porgy and Bess . The home was the first historical house museum open to the public. In 1978 it was designated as a National Historic Landmark.
You can purchase tickets for just the house or combined with the museum and the Joseph Manigault 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. There are several paid parking lots near the home. There are no public restrooms. A gift shop and restrooms can be found at the Charleston Museum. 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. Photography is not permitted inside the home but is welcome outside and in the court yard.
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 Garden Lover’s Guide to the South . Paul Bennett. 2000. Princeton Press.
While in Charleston you really must take the time out to see this marvelous home. It gives you a glimpse into the lives of Charleston’s elite and its history. And just think you can be in the same place George Washington once laid his head!
87 Church St.
Very highly recommended