27 King Street - The Miles Brewton House
This week we'll take a few steps up King Street to the Miles Brewton House at 27 King. After the high Italianate ornamentation we saw at 21 King Street in the last post, we run into the clean and harmonious lines of one of the finest examples of Georgian architecture in the Southeast at 27 King.
Built around 1769, the Miles Brewton House has no need of exterior ornate decoration to catch the eye of the serious tourist or the casual dog-walker. There is an air of refinement that exudes from 27 King, perhaps from its balanced proportions and the obvious quality of the materials seen on the exterior.
Miles Brewton had the wealth, the stature, and the power to build a house that has lasted almost 250 years through two major wars, an earthquake, fires, hurricanes, and tornadoes. He chose the finest artisans and materials for his home. Built on a large lot, the front of the house has a raised basement supporting two floors with a double portico. The columns on each portico are made of Portland stone imported from England. The double stairs are made of marble and lead to a marble platform at the entrance of the house. Of special note is the entrance with its elliptical fanlight, the oldest in the city.
Ezra Waite, a talented London carver, is responsible for the exquisite exterior and interior wood carving. The interior boasts a mahogany staircase to the formal entertaining part of the house. The chandelier in the drawing room is crystal and is original to the house. During the British occupation of Charleston between 1780 and 1782, 27 King was considered such a grand house that it was chosen to be the headquarters for Lord Cornwallis, Lord Rawdon, and Henry Clinton.
An interesting note about the gates and fence in front of 27 King Street is that the double gate is one of only two wrought iron gates left in Charleston that pre-date the Revolutionary War. The sinister-looking iron spikes, known as chevaux de frise (a French military term), that run along the top of the gates and fence were added much later in response to the 1822 Denmark Vesey-purported slave insurrection.
Unfortunately, Miles Brewton and his family lived at 27 King for only six years. He and his entire family were lost at sea in 1775. Rebecca Brewton Motte, his sister, inherited the house, and it is still owned and inhabited by the Brewton descendants today.
Next week, we continue traveling up King Street to see more of Charleston's architecture and history.