The Milton Maxcy House, also known as the “Secession House,” was the scene of many meetings in Beaufort during the 1850s which advocated secession and Southern independence.
The house was built around 1810 for Milton Maxcy upon an existing foundation of a home that was built here around 1743. Maxcy and his brother, Virgil, founded a school for young men in Beaufort and later was a teacher at Beaufort College. Edmund Rhett – lawyer, state representative, and state senator – bought the house in the 1850s and remodeled it in the Greek Revival style with a two-story portico.
Rhett was outspoken in support of state rights and led the meetings held here regarding South Carolina‘s secession. There is even an inscription on the basement wall that reads, In this house the first meeting of Secession was held in South Carolina.
The Milton Maxcy House is listed int he National Register as part of the Beaufort Historic District:
Beaufort is significant for its role as a major center of South Carolina’s antebellum plantation culture, its contribution to the history of the Civil War, and for its role it played in African-American history both during and after the war. Architecturally, the district is significant both for the high-style architecture produced by its pre-war planters and for the folk architectural patterns of its post-war African-American community. The antebellum architecture, unlike that of Charleston and Savannah, is generally made up of free standing Federal, Early Classical Revival, and Greek Revival style houses on large lots that is more akin to the architecture of the Southern plantations of the period, plantations brought to town and adapted to the heat of the summer weather and dampness of lowlands, as well as to the aesthetics of their waterfront settings.
The town’s present appearance owes much to the events of the period between ca.1860 and ca. 1935. The buildings and structures constructed during this period display a variety of architectural forms and styles, including Italianate, Gothic Revival, Victorian, Queen Anne, and Neo-Classical, and reflect the development of the town in the last half of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century. In the 1870s, more modest houses were built on vacant lots in the older parts of town. One type was a five bay I-house, similar in form to many of the antebellum mansions, but reduced in size and of balloon construction using sawn lumber. The second type was a three-bay, gable fronted house, often with Italianate or Eastlake detail. Many antebellum homes were also updated during this period with commercially milled porch details, bay windows, and larger window glass. Colonial Revival made an impact on residential building after the hurricane of 1893, and the bungalow dominated new construction before and after World War I. Commercial construction also reflected increasing prosperity. The historic district includes 475 contributing resources and 350 noncontributing resources.