The Brewton House is a masterwork of early American architecture and reflects the sophisticated tastes of Charleston’s merchants on the eve of the Revolution.
(Charleston). The wealthy merchant and slave trader Miles Brewton began construction of this elegant Palladian-inspired residence at 27 King Street in the mid-1760s. It was completed ca. 1769. With its garden and well-preserved outbuildings, it constitutes the centerpiece of what is widely considered to be the finest Georgian town-house complex in America. The contractor Richard Moncrieff oversaw construction of the house. The elaborate interior carving was done by the carpenter Ezra Waite, with the assistance of the master carvers John Lord and Thomas Woodin.
The Brewton House is a two-story, double-pile structure set on a raised basement. The facade features a two-tiered portico with Ionic and Tuscan columns and an oval window set in the pediment. A dual stair with white marble steps leads to the entrance, which is crowned by an elliptical fanlight. The interior features extraordinary craftsmanship, including fully paneled rooms, elaborate carved ornamentation, mahogany doors, and marble mantles. The hall is paved with Purbeck stone imported from Dorset, England, and the mahogany stair is lit by a Venetian window. The second-floor drawing room has a seventeen-foot cove ceiling and a marble mantle. The grounds include a formal garden and a row of out-buildings along the northern edge of the property. The first group of structures, situated nearest the street, was built ca. 1769 and includes a kitchen, a laundry, and a carriage house. Behind the kitchen a cistern and an arcade with stables and storerooms leads to a two-story brick structure built ca. 1820. Extending west from this building is another arcade that leads to an eighteenth-century structure, which is believed to have served as a dairy, privy, or garden folly. Between the house and the outbuildings is a paved courtyard.
The Brewton House is a masterwork of early American architecture and reflects the sophisticated tastes of Charleston’s merchants on the eve of the Revolution. It was designated a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 1960. See plate 10.
Lane, Mills. Architecture of the Old South: South Carolina. Savannah, Ga.: Beehive, 1984.
Poston, Jonathan H. The Buildings of Charleston: A Guide to the City’s Architecture. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1997.