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The Daniel Ravenel House - 68 Broad Street

 

68 Broad Street is Charleston's oldest legacy house, completed by 1800. This brick single house replaced an earlier wooden residence that burned in the great fire of 1796. The original property was more extensive than it appears now, as it included the Washington Park property until that property was condemned and landscaped as the park.

A French Huguenot named Isaac Mazyck escaped France and came to Charles Town in 1685. He purchased the property in 1710, and, at his death, the property passed to Charlotte Mazyck, either his daughter or granddaughter. Charlotte married Daniel Ravenel, another French Huguenot and plantation owner. Charlotte and Daniel built the present house, and all its subsequent owners, including the current one, are their direct descendants.

From the photograph of 68 Broad, taken from the front, you see the narrow width of the property. The first floor door is a false door that simply leads to the first floor piazza instead of being an entrance to the residence itself. Piazzas were normally situated to access the prevailing breezes from the west or the south. The false door helped keep the dust out from the unpaved street and also afforded a bit of privacy.

Inside Washington Square next door to 68 Broad, there is a good view of the side of the house. I love to begin my walking tours here because everyone has a great visual for the "back of the big house" concept. You will see that the main entrance to the residence is on the side of the house, the norm for single houses. It is evident where the original footprint of the house ends before anything was added. The HVAC system is situated on top of a room connecting the main house to the kitchen house. This connector room is known as the "Charleston hyphen."

The brick dependency building is entirely too large to have housed only the kitchen, and so probably included the laundry and stable. After the great fire of 1740, kitchens became separate buildings of brick. They were usually two stories with the upstairs housing the enslaved of the household. The stables or carriage houses were often separate buildings. Here we see a dependency building large enough to house the kitchen, stable, and laundry.

68 Broad Street is one of Charleston's most important buildings with its legacy ownership and the visibility of the property from the front and the side.

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

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