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Three Historical Choices for your Charleston, SC Visit.

Toured by Mary Gallagher/ Photos by W. A. Davis

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**The Joseph Manigault House** 

A delightful visit to one of the most unique historic homes can be on the history menu for those visiting Charleston. A bold three story house built in 1803 designed for Joseph Manigault, a wealthy plantation owner and businessman, by the amateur architect and Joseph’s brother Gabriel.

Known as Charleston’s “Huguenot House” because of it’s close association with the large number of French Protestants (Huguenots) who anxious to leave France and escape the religious troubles of the time and  began arriving in Charleston in the 1690’s.  Patriarch of the family Gabriel (The Wealthy) Manigault became one of the richest men in the colonies.

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The thirty minute tour is one that details the house, the furniture and collections on display giving visitors a peek at the lifestyle of the wealthy elite in early Charleston. The unique history of the property and its relative importance to the preservation movement in Charleston is also detailed.

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The replicated period gardens and a unique Temple Gate building from 1803 as well as signage for where some of the outbuildings were located complete the visit.

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The CharlestonMuseum owns the Manigault House (located directly across the street) and also the Heyward -Washington House both open for tours as well as the museum. Tours and discounts are available for visits to more than one site. The museum is wheelchair accessible but neither of the historic homes. School age children enjoy the tours.

Please see the museum website:  for more details and to help plan your visit.

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**Magnolia Gardens**

 This was my second visit to the beautiful historic Magnolia Gardens but the previous visit was about 5 years ago and they seem to have expanded on their tours quite a bit. 

One of many beautiful ponds at Magnolia Gardens.
One of many beautiful ponds at Magnolia Gardens.

If you wanted to go all out and take every tour as well as walking around a bit it would take about 5 hours. The paths are sort of crushed gravel and you could push a wheel chair and stroller on them but it will be a workout. Most of the grounds are fairly flat and there is a lot of shade. If it’s a cooler day the breeze coming in off the Ashley River will demand a light jacket or sweater. 

They have an orientation Theater just as you enter and a short but very interesting film on the history of the Plantation and the Drayton Family. There is also a small café serving lite fair and the real bargain a full bag of microwave popcorn for $2.50. We saw some families had brought their own food and were eating at the picnic tables. There are two picnic areas. 

Ponies at Magnolia Gardens.
Ponies at Magnolia Gardens.

There is a great petting zoo, a horticultural maze, nature center, playground and walking and biking paths through the many historic gardens, along the lakes and the Ashley River all included with your basic entry fee $15 adults $10 children. 

The home at Magnolia Gardens.
The home at Magnolia Gardens.

The additional tours ($8 adults and children) include the nature train, the house tour, the From Slavery to Freedom Tour, the Nature Boat and the Audubon Swamp Tour.  

There a number of plantation tours in the area with a variety of pricing ie Charlestowne Landing ($7.50 adult), Middleton Gardens ($28 general admission for adults additional $15 for house tour)  843 571 1266


**The Heyward-Washington House and Gardens**

     As one of the most visited cities in America, Charleston has many different attractions with history and historic sites and one of the best is the Charleston Museum owned Heyward Washington House along with its’ beautiful gardens to the rear.

    The name of the house or anything with the Washington name attached brings almost instant recognition and interest to most visitors to Charleston although the Heyward name is in many ways equally important as Thomas Heyward Jr. was one of the four signers of the Declaration of Independence from South Carolina.

   Heyward was also one of the power players from the historically rich Charleston colonial era.  President Washington stayed at his house for eight days as part of his southern tour of the states in 1791.

    The house also has an attachment to the Grimke sisters of Charleston, Sarah and Angelina who were huge figures during the early years of the Abolitionist movement as well as the women’s right struggles in the 1830’s and 40’s.

Heyward-Washington House from the street.
Heyward-Washington House from the street.

    The Georgian architectural style of the house offers two floors of history as well as the largest collection of Charleston made furniture in one place in the country including the fabulous Holmes-Edwards bookcase library built in 1770.

     Personally the delight of the tour was the opening of the rear door by one of the informative tour guides and immediately walking into a “wow” moment with a view of the rear of the property. Its incredible recreated colonial gardens and the early outbuilding including the only colonial era kitchen open to the public in Charleston and as well as the original privy ! Now updated and used by visitors.

Rear of Heyward-Washington House with Gardens and out buildings.
Rear of Heyward-Washington House with Gardens and outbuildings.

   The gardens contain many of the herbs and flowers that were popular during the last quarter of the 1700’s. Benches and paths give you a relaxing feeling as you explore. Unfortunately for now the house is not accessible by wheelchair. Foreign language guide books are available in French Spanish and German.

      The Heyward-Washington House and Gardens are open from Monday thru Saturday fro p.m. and Sunday from 1-5 p.m. Tours are $10 each for adults and 5.00 for children under five. Relative discounts are available for Seniors ,AAA and AARP. Multi site tickets to explore the three properties of the Charleston museum are also available. (The Charleston Museum three properties are the museum, the Heyward-Washington House, and the Joseph Manigault House).

      To obtain further information, locations and directions on any of the properties of the Charleston Museum please visit

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