The Palmer Home in historic Charleston is one of the Holy City’s most iconic mansions, frequently photographed and often depicted in paintings of the grand homes along the Battery. Built between 1847 and 1849 by John Ravenel, a wealthy merchant and president of the South Carolina Railroad Company, the home remained in the Ravenel family until 1953.
Ravenel’s son, scientist Dr. Saint Julien Ravenel, succeeded his father in ownership of the Italianate-style home. Dr. Ravenel is noted for designing the Little David, a semi-submersible vessel that attacked the Union blockade ship Ironside on October 5, 1863. He is said to have created plans for the torpedo boat in the drawing room of the house. A replica of the Little David is on display at the Old Santee Canal Park.
The younger Ravenel was also instrumental in developing the phosphate industry that attempted to replace rice as a source of Lowcountry prosperity following the Civil War. He eventually sold the home to his son-in-law, Elias Horry Frost, president of E.H. Frost and Company – a cotton brokerage – as well as head of the Stono Phosphate Company and president of the South Carolina Loan and Trust. Frost is responsible for rehabilitating the house after the Great Earthquake of 1886, adding Victorian details while also adhering to the home’s original plan.
The Palmer Home operated as a bed-and-breakfast from 1977 until 2016, when the house sold. The home is in the process of a multi-year renovation to be reverted back to a private residence. It offers unobstructed views of the Charleston Harbor and is just around the corner from White Point Garden.
Chris Bradley (Johnson) says
I remember Dr. Joe Sam, a GREAT man!! I have spent many days hanging out there with my friend Peyton and selling pink lemonade out front…. lmao! Great memories! Was surprised to see it being renovated and learn that it had been sold. The new owner has an absolutely amazing piece of Charleston’s history.
Tracy Palmer Muckey says
I am the great niece once removed from Dr Palmer. I visited this house in 1963 as a little girl when he lived there. I noticed that you don’t have any history listed regarding the Palmer ownership other than much later starting in 1977.
I worked for Dr. Palmer as his assistant. He was a good person who loved his dogs!
Shawn Hierlihy says
Love this house. Stayed there a few years back and always hoped someone with deep pockets would acquire the property and restore it to its former glory. Glad to see it happening.
Biff Bomar says
I remember Dr. Joe Sam and visiting his home many times with my parents. He was truly funny, and the house and gardens were an added adventure.
Cynthia Putman says
This is my favorite house in Charleston. It was sold and is being renovated as a private residence. It is no longer a bed and breakfast.
SC Picture Project says
You’re right, thanks for the information, we do have it listed towards the very bottom that it sold in 2016 and would be reverted to a private residence. We do love the house as well and are excited to watch its restoration progress, they are really doing a beautiful job!
Brenda Webb says
Love the design of this home. Everytime I have been in Charleston, I have admired its beauty.
ernie miller says
You failed to mention Dr. Joe Sam Palmer owned and resided there for many years. Upon passing, one of his daughters opened as a bed and breakfast years after 1977, as mentioned.