73 Rutledge Avenue | Whilden-Hirsch House


This week we focus on 73 Rutledge Avenue, directly across the street from the house in last week’s post. As in the case of 74 Rutledge, this lot was also originally part of the property inherited by John Harleston from his aunt, Affra Harleston Coming. The house at 73 Rutledge was built by William G. Whilden around 1856.

Whilden, born in Charleston, was a merchant whose firm dealt in British jewelry and the silver trade before the Civil War. The firm’s silver mark was “Hayden and Whilden." Whilden left the firm to join the Civil War. After the war he returned to Charleston and later moved to Greenville where he worked in the insurance business until his death.

A striking house with its mansard roof, recessed side piazza and elegant curved wrought iron staircase in front, 73 Rutledge is almost 7,000 square feet; the house was purchased and remodeled around 1893 by Isaac Willard Hirsch, a successful King Street clothing merchant and former Confederate soldier.

As typical in many Victorian-era residences, the house contains several stained glass windows on the first floor. However, it is the window on the front door that captures people’s attention. It is said that Hirsch installed the unusual stained glass with the stag because “hirsch” means “stag” in German.

An interesting note about Isaac Willard Hirsch is his grandson, the noted American sculptor Willard N. Hirsch (1905-1982). My generation has grown up seeing the installation of his “dancing children” sculptures around Charleston; each captures the joy, expressiveness and anticipation of childhood. You can find them at White Point Gardens, Washington Square Park, the Gibbes Museum of Art and the grounds at Ashley Hall School, and you will definitely find yourself smiling!

Next week we will continue to explore Charleston history through her places and people.