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Monday, 17 December 2018 14:21

73 Rutledge Avenue | Whilden-Hirsch House

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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.


Amelia Whaley

Amelia ("Mimi") Whaley

Mimi was born in Charleston and grew up on nearby Edisto Island, one of several sea islands settled by planters due to their close proximity to Charleston. In addition to the Whaleys, Seabrooks, Mikells and Baynards, Mimi is also a direct descendant of Paul Grimball, the recipient of an English land grant of over 1,000 acres on Edisto in 1683; he and his family were the first documented white settlers on Edisto. In Charleston and the Lowcountry, it’s common to hear, "Everyone around here is related; it's just whether or not you claim each other…"

Mimi enjoys sharing the history of Charleston and the Lowcountry. A licensed tour guide, she leads historic Charleston walking tours Wednesdays through Sundays at 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., leaving from Washington Park in the heart of the old city. Reservations are required for these Charleston walking tours which last approximately 2 hours and end in the vicinity of the Charleston Market. Private tours are also available.

Mimi is also an award-winning Charleston artist working in watercolor, oil, acrylic and mixed media. “I’m so fortunate to live in this area and share this special city through touring, writing, talking and painting – all the things I love to do!”

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