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11 Best House Tours in Charleston

11 Best House Tours in Charleston

Take a step past the gates and piazzas of some of the grandest historic residences in America and experience the architecture, works of art and lifestyle of an elite 19th century family. From the site where General P.G.T. Beauregard watched the bombardment of Fort Sumter, which signaled the start of the Civil War, to the house which once served as a private hotel for President George Washington during his weeklong visit in 1791, these historic residences have many stories to tell!

Channeling your inner history buff? Discover 21 Spots Every History Buff Needs to Visit in Charleston!

Built in 1772 for Thomas Heyward, Jr., a signer of the Declaration of Independence, this home was opened to the public in 1930 - Charleston’s first historic house museum. Used as a private hotel for President George Washington during his weeklong visit in 1791, the Heyward-Washington House showcases an array of colonial era, Charleston-made furniture.

Peek at heirloom silver and meander through carefully cultivated boxwoods during the Preservation Society of Charleston's docent-led tours that invite guests into some of the Charleston area’s most historic and architecturally significant dwellings.

Explore beyond the garden gates and piazzas of the Charleston peninsula’s most intriguing private residences during Historic Charleston Foundation's award-winning tours and educational events. The Festival of Houses & Gardens showcases Charleston’s distinctive history, architecture, gardens and culture.

Built in 1808, this home is widely recognized as one of America’s more important neoclassical dwellings. The interior is adorned with elaborate plaster ornamentation and a stunning free-flying staircase. Be sure to check out the joggling board in the formal gardens; this is a uniquely Charleston invention!

Built in 1803, this house is a premier example of Federal-style architecture. The collection of period American, English and French furnishings on display at the Joseph Manigault House illustrates the lifestyle of a wealthy, rice-planting family.

The nation’s premier example of an urban plantation, this circa 1818 double house was erected by one of the state’s wealthiest citizens and encompasses nearly an entire city block.

Built in 1825, this stunning mansion sits on High Battery and offers a sweeping view of Charleston’s historic harbor. It was from the piazza that General P.G.T. Beauregard watched the bombardment of Fort Sumter, which signaled the start of the Civil War.

Untouched by fad or fashion, Drayton Hall stands as an example of meticulous preservation and has neither running water nor electricity. As one of the most successful planters of the period, John Drayton, surrounded himself with the most fashionable goods acquired from travels around the world. The surviving furniture, ceramics and glassware exhibit the lengths that Drayton went to furnish his house with imported objects that befitted his status and lifestyle and, just as important, were in keeping with the latest protocol of British society.

This 17th-century estate, acquired in 1676 by the Drayton family, features America’s oldest gardens circa 1680. The main house - the core of which was built prior to the Revolutionary War - offers a glimpse of plantation life in the 19th century and is furnished with early-American antiques, porcelain, quilts and Drayton family heirlooms.

This National Historic Landmark is home to America’s oldest landscaped gardens. The House Museum (the South Flanker) was built in 1755 as a gentlemen's guest quarters and business office. The House Museum is a surviving portion of three residential buildings that once stood overlooking the Ashley River.

For more than three centuries, crops have been grown on the grounds of this picturesque plantation, which has appeared in several movies and television mini-series. The home on site served as the dreamy exterior of Allie Hamilton's summer home in the blockbuster hit "The Notebook."