Southern Charmer: Patricia Altschul’s “Pretty As A Peach” Charleston Home

I grew up with a colorful mother from the great state of Texas. And, over the years, she’s passed along many charming Southern expressions that I must admit, I still use today. Sayings like: “Pretty as a picture”, “Bald as a billiard ball”, “Neither hide nor hair”, are just a few that come to mind. And, like territorial norms, the sayings change from area to area. For example, here in South Carolina they say (when referring to someone/something beautiful): “She’s/it’s pretty as a peach in June.” I can’t think of a more perfect fit for this sweet compliment for both a woman AND a house: Patricia Altschul, Owner of the Isaac Jenkins Mikell House at 94 Rutledge Avenue in beautiful downtown Charleston. (Fans of the hit Bravo television show “Southern Charm” probably count her as their favorite character on the series. There’s just nobody else like her. She’s the stuff dreams are made of, only she’s livin’ the dream!)

If you’re familiar with the show, you’ll instantly recognize the stunning Roman Revival mansion and its pedimented portico with six columns adorned with six Jupiter, or ram’s head, capitals. It was described in 1857 as “one of the most ambitious of the private dwellings in Charleston.” I mean, doesn’t everyone’s front entrance look like this?
 
Built in 1853-1854, (with an unknown architect) by Edisto Island cotton planter and slave owner Isaac Jenkins Mikell for his third wife, Mary Martha Pope. And, during the time of the construction, the owner kept 154 enslaved people within its premises. It is surmised that Mary Martha was the great love of his life — for he spared no expense on this love nest. 
 
The southern facade that overlooks Montagu Street is dominated by the classic columns that make its exterior so wonderfully recognizable. Even over a high surrounding wall, I was able to stand on my tip-toes and hold my camera up and over the top to snap a few photos. Even as a tour guide here in Charleston, I try very hard not to linger too long in front of any private residence, or trespass. I have from to time to time seen visitors crossing the public sidewalk in front of a Charleston home and venturing up its driveway to get a better look. I will kindly ask my guests to respect the owners’ properties at all times. In fact, I refuse to assemble a group in front of someone’s home and speak loudly. Rather, I encourage my visitors to remain silent and take photos quietly until we can resume in a space that does not crowd or block the entrance to any home. Always remember, people may be just a few feet away and deserve the respect they’ve earned as proud owners of these magnificent homes.
 
Also included adjacent to the main house is a kitchen building and separate coach house which were later developed into dependency apartments. The house was bought in 1935 by the Charleston Free Library and served as a public library until the early ’60s when it was then sold and restored as a private residence. 

Fun fact: Actors Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith briefly lived here while filming “Paradise” in 1991. 

It wasn’t until later in 2008 when Patricia Altschul paid $4.8 million for the home and has passionately restored and adoringly revived this iconic landmark into a stately mansion. To see photos of her whimsical and elegant decor, please click here: Patricia Altschul’s lovely home.
 
Her thoughtful efforts rightfully earned the house a prominent listing on the National Register of Historic Places on March 11, 2014.

Its value has quadrupled since Hurricane Hugo, 1989.
 

If you’d like to take a closer look at this spectacular Charleston hidden gem, please book one of my private tours.

Visit my Tours page or please call to arrange a private tour at 843.806.9915

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