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National Historic Landmark Heyward-Washington House
South Carolina
Heyward-Washington House
Heyward-Washington House

Location: Charleston County, 87 Church Street, Charleston.

From 1778 until 1794 this townhouse was the principal residence of Thomas Heyward, Jr. During this period, however, he also spent considerable time at White Hall, his country estate near that of his father about 25 miles northeast of Savannah, and in 1780-81 was imprisoned by the British at St. Augustine. In 1770 his father, Daniel, a rice planter, had purchased the lot and a two-story house standing on it. Within 2 years, he probably demolished it and erected the present one. Thomas inherited it in 1777, and moved in the following year, upon completion of his tour in the Continental Congress. In 1780, when the British took Charleston, they captured him and forced his family to flee from the townhouse. For a week in 1791 the city rented it for use of President Washington, who was visiting Charleston while touring the Southern States. Three years later, Heyward sold the property and retired to White Hall.

A slightly altered Georgian structure, the residence is a superb example of a Charleston "double house." The floor plan is the typical Georgian center hall type, with four rooms on each floor. Two interior chimneys allow for two fireplaces in pairs set back to back on all floors. The first-floor rooms are simple; those on the second, elaborate, for entertaining. The downstairs hall, divided by an arch at midpoint, extends to a rear door. A Palladian window lights the stairway, located at the rear of the hall against the north wall.

The large second-floor drawing room, the most elaborate room in the house, features paneled walls, pedimented doors, interior paneled shutters, an elaborate ceiling cornice, and a fireplace with a magnificent carved mantel. In addition to the drawing room, the second floor contains a smaller parlor and two bedrooms, each of which has a paneled fireplace wall. Four more rooms are located on both the first and third floors. Except for reconstruction in 1929 of one front room and the front of the hall on the first floor, the structure is largely original.

The brick house is square and rises three stories. The hipped roof is pierced by a single front dormer and ornamented by a narrow, denticulated cornice. Brick flat arches head the windows. The upper windows have louvered shutters; those on the first floor, paneled shutters. The center entrance, a reconstruction, consists of a fan-lighted door surmounted by a pediment and flanked by Roman Doric columns. A rear courtyard contains a brick kitchen-laundry with slave quarters above, a carriage house, wood and tool sheds, a necessary, and garden.

Subsequent to Heyward's ownership, the house passed through several hands until rescued from the threat of demolition in 1929 by the Charleston Museum. After restoration and furnishing with period pieces, it was opened to the public. A collection of china once owned by Heyward is on display, as well as portraits of the Heyward family.

Heyward-Washington House
Heyward-Washington House. (National Park Service)

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Last Updated: 04-Jul-2004