Joseph Rainey was born a slave in 1832 in Georgetown, South Carolina, but was able to become the first African American Congressman in the United States. This home was his birthplace and remained his home until his family moved to Charleston in 1846. The home was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as well as a dedicated National Historic Landmark.


  • Joseph Rainey.
    Joseph Rainey.
  • Historical Landmarker
    Historical Landmarker
  • The Rainey House as it stands today.
    The Rainey House as it stands today.

Born on June 21, 1832, Joseph Rainey was born to slave parents. His father purchased his family's freedom and was overall a prosperous family. His family wanted Joseph to be a barber as his family had a barbershop in Charleston. They wanted to teach him the trade.
Once he learned the trade of being a barber, he did very well. He worked at the Mills House Hotel, which was a prestigious establishment. He married a woman named Susan and they had three children.

Joseph Rainey was drafted by the state to help build Confederate fortifications. Soon after him and his wife escaped to Bermuda. In Bermuda he continued his Barber work as well as sought more education. They returned back to South Carolina in 1866. Two years later he was elected to the state senate. Two years after that he was selected to replace Benjamin Whittemore's, a white man, position as Congressman.

The home was renovated in the 1970s. Regardless of it being renovated it still holds some of the originality such as the panel floors, cypress paneling, as well as wainscotting. You can also find more history on Joseph Rainey at the Georgetown Rice Museum. The museum has a huge exhibit dedicated to Rainey and his connection to the town.

"Rainey, Joseph Hayne (1832-1887)."  BlackPast.org. http://www.blackpast.org/aah/rainey-joseph-hayne-1832-1887.

"RAINEY, Joseph Hayne." United States House of Representatives: Office of the Historian. http://history.house.gov/People/Listing/R/RAINEY,-Joseph-Hayne-%28R000016%29/.

"Joseph H. Rainey House." South Carolina History Trail. Accessed September 5, 2015. http://www.schistorytrail.com/property.html?i=211

"Joseph H. Rainey House." Wikipedia. Accessed September 5, 2015. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_H._Rainey_House

Photo Credits:
http://www.schistorytrail.com/property.html?i=211 http://destinyunknown.smugmug.com/South-carolinas-historic-landm/Georgetown-County/i-SKH9Smz