The Confederate Home | 60-64 Broad Street

Broad Street has some wonderful structures and lots of stories. This week we visit 60-64 Broad Street or the Confederate Home, originally known as the Home for the Mothers, Widows, and Daughters of Confederate Soldiers.

During its strange and storied history, this property has been a residence which hosted a United States President, served as a hotel, a Federal courthouse, a college, apartment building and wedding destination.

Gilbert Chalmers, the original owner and builder of this property would not have recognized his property today. The façade of the original building was drastically changed with a mansard roof after the earthquake of 1886 damaged the property. Chalmers built a double tenement here in 1800 and his daughter inherited the property. Chalmers was born in Scotland in 1746; he died in Charleston in 1805 and is buried in the First Scots Presbyterian Church

Governor John Geddes first married Chalmers’ daughter, Harriet; after Harriet’s death he married Chalmers’ other daughter, Anne. In 1819 Governor Geddes hosted President James Monroe at this property. Geddes also served as one of Charleston’s mayors.

The property was sold in 1834 to another Charleston Scot, Angus Stewart, who opened the property as the Carolina Hotel. After the Civil War, the building was rented to the Home for the Mothers, Widows, and Daughters of Confederate Soldiers, an organization founded by Mary Amarintha Yates Snowdon and her sister Isabel. The sisters mortgaged their home to pay for the rent, and in 1874 the Confederate Home was able to purchase the property which was also used as the Confederate College for young women.

From Broad Street the property appears as a large house, but on entry, it is evident that the property is huge. Entering from the Broad Street entrance, one sees three stories of apartments overlooking a large courtyard and garden. In the spirit of Amarintha and Isabel’s vision, these apartments provide safe and affordable housing for older women; my grandfather’s sister from Edisto Island, Annie Seabrook Whaley, lived there after her father’s death. In addition to apartments, today some units are rented to local artists as studios, and the courtyard provides a lovely venue for weddings and receptions.

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