The cupola rising from the Second Empire home pictured below belongs to the Francis Silas Rodgers Mansion, which today houses a luxury inn known as the Wentworth Mansion. The opulent Charleston house was completed in 1886 for Rodgers, a successful cotton merchant, though construction began five years before. The four-story, 24,000-square-foot home was designed to be large enough to accommodate Rodgers’ family of 13 and grand enough to reflect his status in the cotton industry. The home suffered damage from the 1886 earthquake shortly after it was built, although it was immediately repaired. Since its completion, the mansion has been considered the finest of its style in Charleston.
Notable features of the home include two matching chandeliers from Europe commissioned by Rodgers and installed by their maker, marble mantle pieces by sculptor Emile T. Viett, and glass panels by Louis Comfort Tiffany. The cupola that towers from the striking mansard roof affords spectacular views of Charleston. Local notable architect Daniel G. Wayne designed the home.
The mansion remained in the Rodgers family until 1920. At that time it was purchased by the Scottish Rite Cathedral Association (see postcard below). That group sold the home to the Atlantic Coast Life Insurance Company in 1940.
The present owner, Richard Widman, bought the home in 1997 with plans to convert it into a luxury hotel. Following 18 months of restoration, the Wentworth Mansion, named for its eponymous street, opened as a 21-room grand hotel in downtown Charleston. Other features of the property have been restored to receive guests, such as the carriage house that in 2000 was converted into a restaurant – Circa 1886 – and a stable that now serves as a spa.
The Wentworth Mansion is listed in the National Register as the Francis Silas Rodgers Mansion in 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.