This Georgian-style home, built in 1772, was the town home of Thomas Heyward, Revolutionary war leader and signer of the Declaration of Independence. The home was rented for President George Washington’s weeklong visit to Charleston in 1791. Today, visitors are able to tour the home and view the historic Charleston-made furniture original to the property, an 18th-century well, a 1740s kitchen building, and a carriage house. Original features viewable in the home include the Holmes Bookcase, considered the finest example of furniture made in the U.S.
Backstory and Context
Built in 1772, this Georgian-style double house was the town home of Thomas Heyward, Jr., one of four South Carolina signers of the Declaration of Independence. A Revolutionary War leader and artillery officer with the South Carolina militia, Heyward was captured when the British took Charleston in 1780. He was exiled to St. Augustine, Florida, but was exchanged in 1781.
The city rented this house for George Washington's use during the President's week-long Charleston stay in May 1791. Since then it has traditionally been called the "Heyward-Washington House." Heyward sold the house in 1794 to John F. Grimke, also a Revolutionary War officer and father of Sarah and Angeline Grimke, the famous abolitionists and suffragists. It was acquired by the Charleston Museum in 1929 and opened to the public the following year as Charleston's first historic house museum. The property was recognized as a National Historic Landmark in 1978.
The house is known for it's historic collection of Charleston-made furniture including the priceless Holmes Bookcase, considered one of the finest examples of American-made colonial furniture. The property also features the only 1740s kitchen building open to the public in Charleston as well as formal gardens featuring plants commonly used in the South Carolina Lowcountry in the late 18th century.
Today the home is owned by the Charleston Museum. It offers a tour of the property, including the numerous out buildings, and houses the Department of Achives and History summary.