Marshlands

1814 –

During the Civil War, Marshlands served as headquarters of the U.S. Sanitary Commission.

(Beaufort). Located on Federal Street in Beaufort’s National Historic Landmark District, Marshlands was completed in 1814 by James Robert Verdier, a physician noted for his successful treatment of yellow fever. Listed individually as a National Historic Landmark in 1975, it is recognized for both its architectural and its historical distinctions. Before twentieth-century modification, the original structure exemplified a popular house type often designated as the Beaufort style.

A raised two-story central block is organized about a central hall that projects north to create a stair tower. Single-story wings enclosed by shed roofs formerly flanked the stair hall on the right and left. The two wings project east and west to create a T-shaped plan. A single-story porch raised on brick, arcaded arches wraps around the house on three sides. The principal facade, on the south, is topped by a pediment masking hipped roof construction enclosing the central block. Entrance is through this south porch. The interior is rich in Federal detailing, with Adamesque mantels, reeded woodwork, interior fanlights, and a graceful spiraling staircase illuminated by a Palladian window.

In an attempt to determine the origins of Beaufort’s early domestic buildings, architectural historians have labeled Marshlands as Barbadian or West Indian. Others have described its T-shaped, raised plan and porches wrapping three sides as a pure expression of the Beaufort style. However, there is evidence of similar Federal period structures in rural North Carolina. Whatever the architectural roots of the score of similar buildings found throughout Beaufort’s historic district, two factors contributed to the popularity of this style. First, the formula was adaptable, allowing for variation in size, material, style, and cost. Second, the T-shaped houses maximized cross-ventilation without sacrificing architectural distinction.

During the Civil War, Marshlands served as headquarters of the U.S. Sanitary Commission. In her 1939 novel A Sea Island Lady, Francis Griswold imagined the house as the home of its heroine. For most of the twentieth century and at the beginning of the twenty-first century, the house was in the family of William Brantley Harvey, Jr., lieutenant governor of South Carolina from 1975 to 1978.

Historic Resources of the Lowcountry: A Regional Survey of Beaufort County, S.C., Colleton County, S.C., Hampton County, S.C., Jasper County, S.C. 2d ed. Yemassee, S.C.: Lowcountry Council of Governments, 1990.

Schneider, David B., ed. A Guide to Historic Beaufort. 9th ed. Beaufort, S.C.: Historic Beaufort Foundation, 1999.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Title Marshlands
  • Coverage 1814 –
  • Author
  • Keywords completed in 1814 by James Robert Verdier, National Historic Landmark in 1975, During the Civil War, Marshlands served as headquarters of the U.S. Sanitary Commission, family of William Brantley Harvey, Jr., lieutenant governor of South Carolina from 1975 to 1978
  • 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 October 19, 2016
Go to Top