Tuesday, 22 August 2017 13:21

8 Legare Street

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Continuing on Legare Street, we’ll stop at Number 8, a house that resonates with Charleston history.

Built in 1857, 8 Legare was first owned by Charlestonian Cleland Kinloch Huger (pronounced “U-gee”).  Patrick O’Donnell, an Irish immigrant, was the contractor for this imposing structure which was built in the Italianate style.  Here we are greeted by another pair of grand gateposts with a wrought iron gate. This gate with the elongated harps is thought to be the work of Christopher Werner who also designed the Sword Gates at 14 Legare Street.

What always catches my eye is the grand red door – it stops me every time I walk down this street. It’s the kind of door that makes you wonder about the history and life behind it.  In the photograph you can see the distressed nature of the gateposts and wall, a timeworn and weathered effect that intrigues me and simply adds to the mystery of Charleston and its history.

I visited 8 Legare Street during the Preservation Society’s Fall Tours last year. Three stories high, the house is large and fortunately retains much of the original interior.  When the house was built, entertaining took place on the second floor, which is reflected in the drawing rooms with the original pocket doors, original gas chandeliers, and marble mantelpieces. 

In 1927, Burnet Rhett Maybank and his wife purchased 8 Legare Street, and Maybank started his significant political career in city, state, and country.  Maybank was a City Councilman, Mayor of Charleston, Governor of South Carolina and a three-term United States Senator, dying unexpectedly in his third term.  Personable and popular, he never lost an election.

Maybank was inaugurated as Mayor in January 1932, at a time of severe economic depression for the City.  The entire country was dealing with the Great Depression (1929-1939).  Fortunately, Maybank was able to steer Charleston through the worst of the financial crisis, and his personal, professional, and political contacts helped Charleston immensely. Maybank became friends with President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who visited 8 Legare Street several times, and the Maybanks were entertained at the White House.  In fact, Mrs. Maybank gave FDR his first project for the Works Progress Administration – the rescue and renovation of Charleston’s Dock Street Theatre.  

In my next post, we’ll leave the high walls and interesting gates of Legare Street and go one street over to explore some of the historic homes on King Street. 

 

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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