South Carolina Picture Project
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Confederate Home — Charleston, South Carolina

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Confederate Home

The historic building seen below is considered by many to be one of Charleston‘s most significant structures due to its various uses since the Civil War. Formally called the Confederate Home and College, the Broad Street building in historic downtown is a sprawling structure that reaches all the way back to Chalmers Street. It was built c. 1800 by master carpenter Gilbert Chalmers as a double tenement house and later bequeathed to his daughter and her husband, Governor John Geddes. President James Monroe stayed here during his visit to Charleston in 1819. Geddes sold the building in 1825 due to financial difficulties, and in 1834 Angus Stewart acquired it, turning it into the Carolina Hotel. The hotel was later owned and managed by Archibald McKenzie.

Confederate Home

John Diskes of Summerville, 2012 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Additions to the rear of the building on Chalmers Street were used as a United States District Court House from 1845 until 1860; the Federal Court was suspended after South Carolina seceded from the Union on December 20, 1860. Beginning in 1867, Mary Amarinthea Snowden and her sister, Isabella Snowden, leased the building from Archibald McKenzie for use as a charity called the Home for Mothers, Widows, and Daughters of Confederate Soldiers of Charleston. It was more commonly known as the Confederate Home, as it is today.

Confederate Home Charleston

John Diskes of Summerville, 2012 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The sisters mortgaged their home in order to operate the charity, which provided a shelter for women who lost spouses, sons, and fathers during the war. By 1880 the Confederate Home also ran a women’s college from the building; it was known as the Confederate College and operated until the 1920s. The Confederate Home was finally able to purchase the building in 1874 and continues to own it today.

Confederate Home Interior

Brandon Coffey of Charleston, 2015 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The building was severely damaged during the great earthquake of 1886. Not only was it repaired following the disaster, but during the restoration the Confederate Home’s facade was redesigned in its present Second Empire style, complete with a mansard roof. The original building is said to have been Georgian. Today the Confederate Home still operates as a charity, providing affordable housing for qualified residents, and it also leases studio space to local artists and writers.

Confederate Home Apartments

Brandon Coffey of Charleston, 2015 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Living spaces are found in the middle section of the structure between Broad and Chalmers streets, as seen above; that portion was built between 1872 and 1882 and features cantilevered piazzas. The Confederate Home also awards five annual college scholarships. The rear of the building formerly used as a court house is now rented as an events venue, though a rule that prohibits dancing is still on record. The regulation is in keeping with the Confederate Home’s rules from its time as a women’s school.

Confederate Home Courtyard

Brandon Coffey of Charleston, 2015 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The Confederate Home is listed in the National Register as part of the Charleston Historic District:

(Charleston Old and Historic District) Charleston played an important role in Colonial, Revolutionary, antebellum and Civil War America. The city was a major Colonial seaport, an active participant in the Revolution, a seat of rice and cotton culture and a leader of secession. Today much of the nation’s great social and architectural history can be visibly appreciated because of the great concentration of period buildings that still line the city streets. The historic district contains primarily residential buildings in addition to commercial, ecclesiastical, and government-related buildings. Several historic neighborhoods are included because of their concentrations of historically and architecturally valuable buildings. These neighborhoods possess the unique visual appeal of old Charleston, a picturesqueness created by the close proximity of buildings, in a wide variety of architectural styles. There is general harmony in terms of height, scale, proportion, materials, textures, colors, and characteristic forms, such as the side piazzas. All of the properties contribute to an expanded period of significance dating from 1700 to 1941. The great concentration of 18th and 19th century buildings give the district a flavor of an earlier America. The district contains many buildings of national historic and/or architectural significance. Built of brick, stucco, or clapboard, many of these properties are Charleston “single houses,” one room wide, with gable end to the street and tiered piazzas. Others are plantation style houses. Architectural styles include Georgian, Regency, Federal, Adamesque, Classical Revival, Greek Revival, Italianate, Gothic Revival, and Queen Anne, among others. The district also contains many outbuildings (stables, carriage houses, kitchen buildings), a majority of which have been altered extensively to accommodate modern needs.

Historical Images of the Confederate Home

In addition to suffering damage during Charleston’s 1886 earthquake, as described above, the Confederate Home was also a victim of the 1938 tornado. The historical photos below were contributed by Ruth Rawls and show the building and grounds shortly after the storm. The photos are owned by Leslie Lawton Bateson and were taken by his father, Richard Humphreys Bateson. The elder Mr. Bateson and his wife, Mary Genevieve Lawton Bateson, lived at the Confederate Home prior to the tornado. (They left the Confederate Home after the storm destroyed the roof, rendering the building no longer habitable.)

Confederate Home after Storm of 1938

This photo was taken from Washington Park shortly after Charleston’s 1938 tornado.
Courtesy of Ruth Rawls © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Confederate Home Garden after 1938 Tornado

This photo was taken from Washington Park and shows the damaged roof.
Courtesy of Ruth Rawls © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

These next two photos also come from Ruth Rawls. We are uncertain exactly when they were taken, though it is safe to assume that Richard Bateson took them around the same time as he took the photos above.

Confederate Home Historic Photo

View of the Confederate Home from the courtyard, c. 1938
Courtesy of Ruth Rawls © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Confederate Home from Chalmers Street

View of the Confederate Home from Chalmers Street, c. 1938
Courtesy of Ruth Rawls © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The picture below was taken in 1937, before the tornado, by photographer Frances Benjamin Johnston. It shows the courtyard of the Confederate Home.

Confederate Home Historical

The following image dates to December 31, 1889. It shows the Confederate Home with two stores below. The store at 60 Broad Street (left) served a plumber named Oscar S. Miscally. The store at 62 Broad Street (right) was operated by “S.C. Menke, Artist Tailor.”

Confederate House in Charleston

George LaGrange Cook, Creative Commons

This last photo was taken sometime during the 1930s or 1940s for the Works Progress Administration by local Charleston photographer Howard R. Jacobs. A typewritten note on the back reads, “No. 1. VIEW OF CHARLESTON, S. C. Looking east. Showing East Broad St. with corner of Washington Square, next home of Mr. Daniel Ravenel Jr. (68 Broad St.) Confederate home, Chamber of Commerce, (corner Broad & Church, with Palmetto in front. N. E. Corner Citizens and Southern Bank of South Carolina. Tall building Peoples Building. Church St. Philips, On Cooper River by water tank U. S. Custom House. (Photo taken from St. Michael’s Steeple).”

Confederate Home and Broad Street

Confederate Home Historic Photo

South Caroliniana Library, Works Progress Administration, 1930-1940

Confederate Home Info

Address: 60-64 Broad Street, Charleston, SC 29401
GPS Coordinates: 32.776749,-79.929866

Confederate Home Map

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