While most of us have probably heard of Thomas Chippendale (1718-1779) who was born in Otley in the West Riding of Yorkshire,
The Nathaniel Russell House Has Free Garden Beauty!
During one of my Charleston walking tours, if time allows, I’ll always guide my guests through the magnificent garden attached to the historic house museum, the Nathaniel Russell House. This stunner was constructed in 1808, altered in 1857, 1908, 1915; restored 1955, 1990s. It just so happens to have an entire lot dedicated next to it for a lovely garden. So, even if you don’t have the chance to tour the home itself (although the free-flying staircase alone is worth the price of admission!), definitely take a quick stroll through the grounds. There seems to always be something in bloom — and the scents are delicious.
So who was Nathaniel Russell? He was a wealthy man from Rhode Island who made quite a great deal of money as a merchant in Charleston. His house (NOTE: Look for the monogrammed initials “NR” on the second level wrought iron) is one of the most glorious Federal townhouses in America. The rectangular three-story brick mansion with an octagonal wing on the south side is made of brick with white stone and wood trim. Its entrance has a transomed elliptical fanlight, a wrought iron balcony and a balustraded parapet. The furnishings located inside are also quite lovely.
Russell’s heirs sold the house to Gov. Robert Francis Withers Allston, who lived here while governor. In 1870, his executors sold it to the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Mercy. It then served again as a private residence until it was put on the market in 1955, at which time it was threatened redevelopment as multi-family housing. Historic Charleston Foundation raised the money (Yay!) to buy and protect it in 1955 and restored it as a house museum. It was later designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1974.
The house was painstakingly restored from 1998 to 2006, including cutting-edge research tools to determine the house’s original paint colors and finishes. It has an extraordinary collection of fine art and antiques to recreate the period of the Russells’ residency here from 1808-1820. Archaeological studies were undertaken by The Charleston Museum to aid in understanding the work site in the rear and to determine the characteristics of the original garden.
Over the past few years, I can’t resist photographing the seasonal beauty of the garden.
To experience Charleston up close and personal, why not book one of my leisurely walking tours and together we’ll discover the hidden beauty of Charleston.