Heyward-Washington House

1772

Excavations by the Charleston Museum revealed the houses, activities, and artifacts of the Milners, the Heywards, the antebellum owners, and the enslaved African American occupants. The house was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1970.

(Charleston). Owned by the Charleston Museum and open to the public, the Heyward-Washington House at 87 Church Street, Charleston, was built in 1772 by the rice planter Thomas Heyward, Jr., who later became a signer of the Declaration of Independence. President George Washington stayed in the house during his visit to Charleston in 1791. The three-story brick double house features four rooms plus a central hall on the first floor. The second floor features a drawing room and a smaller withdrawing room in front and two chambers in the rear; additional chambers are found on the third floor. In the 1880s the Fuseler family converted the property to a bakery, radically altering the first floor of the house to include a storefront. It was saved from destruction by the Charleston Museum and the Society for the Preservation of Old Dwellings in 1929. Architectural research aided restoration of the first floor, while a study of Charleston gardens led to the creation of a period parterre (an ornamental garden with paths between the beds) in the rear lot. The house museum is furnished with period furniture and appointments, including Charleston-made furniture.

Thomas Heyward sold the property in 1794. Archaeology and documents reveal a long history of occupation, both before and after Heyward. A wooden house and outbuildings built in 1730 by the gunsmith John Milner burned in the Charleston fire of 1740. Milner and his son continued the smithing business with the aid of eleven slaves. In 1749 John Milner, Jr., built a brick single house and outbuildings. Thomas Heyward razed the single house but kept Milner’s kitchen and stable.

Excavations by the Charleston Museum revealed the houses, activities, and artifacts of the Milners, the Heywards, the antebellum owners, and the enslaved African American occupants. The house was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1970.

Herold, Elaine B. Preliminary Report on the Research at the Heyward-Washington House. Charleston, S.C.: Charleston Museum, 1978.

Poston, Jonathan H. The Buildings of Charleston: A Guide to the City’s Architecture. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1997.

Zierden, Martha. Archaeological Testing and Mitigation at the Stable Building, Heyward-Washington House. Charleston, S.C.: Charleston Museum, 1993.

Zierden, Martha, and Elizabeth Reitz. “Eighteenth-Century Charleston: Aftermath of the Siege of St. Augustine.” El Escribano: The St. Augustine Journal of History (2002): 113–32.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Title Heyward-Washington House
  • Coverage 1772
  • Martha A. Zierden
  • Author Ronald W. Anthony
  • Keywords Charleston Museum, public, Society for the Preservation of Old Dwellings, National Historic Landmark
  • Website Name South Carolina Encyclopedia
  • Publisher University of South Carolina, Institute for Southern Studies
  • URL
  • Access Date October 30, 2020
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update May 17, 2016
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