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Calhoun Mansion – Charleston, South Carolina

Calhoun Mansion – Charleston, South Carolina

by mccownJanuary 30, 2013
This entry is part 1 of 7 in the series Explore Charleston

14-16 Meeting Street
Charleston, SC

Located nearly across the street from Battery Park, the Calhoun Mansion is the largest private residence on the peninsula. But, you’ll quickly be more impressed with the contents of the house than its sheer size.


The Italianate design manor house has 35 rooms, a grand ballroom, Japanese water gardens, 35 fireplaces and a 75-foot domed stairhall ceiling

Tours are offered seven days a week, from 11 a.m.  – 5 p.m. on every hour and half-hour, each lasting about 30-35 minutes ($15), and the “New Grand Tour” ($50 with a reservation) lasting about 1.5 hours. To purchase tickets, walk around the house to the rear entrance to the Museum Shop.



The magnificent gardens, designed as they are now in the 1990s, even have a koi pond!

Built in 1876 by George Walton Williams for $200,000, the house was called the “handsomest and most complete private residence in the South” by the Charleston News and Courier. Not much has changed in the 137 years of its existence, although it has changed owners quite a bit. Williams left the house to his youngest daughter Sarah, who married the grandson of John C. Calhoun.  Though they sold the house during the Great Depression (not long after they inherited it), the name “Calhoun Mansion” stuck because the new owners turned the house into a hotel and … well, the Calhoun name was kept as a marketing tool.




(photo from


Be sure to walk around the grounds — the big-for-Charleston yard is meticulously kept. I bet your back yard doesn’t look like this.





We’re standing on the front porch of the Calhoun Mansion. The house in the background (across the street) was purchased by Mr. Williams for his son.


The current owners live in the house about 70 percent of the time; this is their main residence. Before we walked in, our tour guide warned us that the house had “a lot of stuff,” but we had no idea. Because guests aren’t allowed to take pictures online, we’ve shared pictures of the interior from the picture gallery on the house’s website. These pictures must be a bit dated — we saw much, much more “stuff” than these pictures show. It really is a “see it to believe it” kind of thing…

From a Picasso vase that the current owner bought to original Tiffany-designs original to the house, the things in the house are much more impressive than the house itself– I know, hard to believe.


Grand Entrance Hall1

Downstairs reception room(photo from

Downstairs reception room1

Sitting Room (photo from

Sitting Room1

Ballroom (photo from


Ballroom Ceiling (photo from

Ballroom Ceiling1

Second Floor Hall (photo from

Second Floor Hall1



This really is the historic home to visit if you can only see one in Charleston (did we mention it was filmed in The Notebook?!) — your experience will be much different than any other historic house tour you’ve taken (i.e., a real stuffed wild mountain goat climbing a rock on the main stairwell, framed by the head of a zebra and, on the other side, the head of a wild boar — let’s just say it’s not your average deer antlers hanging on the wall).

We guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Photo credits 1:

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