This week we visit the William Harvey House at 110 Broad Street. 110 Broad Street is one of our earlier structures, dating from 1728, and has been altered and renovated several times. Today this structure remains a single-family residence.
In addition to this early pre-Revolutionary house having escaped the 5 great fires of Charleston, the owners and inhabitants of 110 Broad are a fascinating part of the history of this city. The structure was built by merchant William Harvey as a rental structure, and the property was later leased 110 Broad to James Glen, the royal governor of the colony from 1738-1756. A native of Scotland, Glen was appointed as royal governor in 1738 but he didn’t actually arrive in Charles Town until 1743; he was the longest serving governor of this royal colony in Colonial times. Perhaps Glen’s greatest achievement here was his direct involvement in the issues of Indian affairs. Glen later returned to England and Scotland when his term as royal governor ended.
In 1756, 110 Broad Street was sold to Ralph Izard who died soon after his purchase of the property; the Izards were an early prominent Charleston family who owned The Elms, a rice plantation on the Cooper River in 1741. Izard’s descendant sold 110 Broad Street to Mary (Izard) Poinsett and her husband Joel in 1837.
Joel Poinsett of French Huguenot heritage was born in Charleston in 1779; he was a physician and an amateur botanist, but most of his life was spent in public service to his state and country. Poinsett served as a South Carolina State representative several times, as a member of the United States Congress, as United States Secretary of War and as the first United States Ambassador to Mexico. As far as Charlestonians are concerned, Joel Poinsett gave us our Christmas flower which is named for him, the poinsettia. When in Mexico, Poinsett discovered a plant he had never seen before; the leaves were a brilliant red color, and he took cuttings. We celebrate December 12 as Poinsettia Day, and throughout the Christmas season, Charlestonians decorate with poinsettias throughout their homes.
Next week we will continue to explore Charleston history through her places and people.