Charleston’s historic Aiken-Rhett House offers a rare glimpse into antebellum plantation life in South Carolina. The only surviving urban plantation, the 1818 townhouse complex remains largely intact, its rooms decorated with original wallpaper, fine art, and antique furnishings purchased by the owners more than 150 years ago.
A tour of the mansion takes visitors across the double-sided porch, into the dining room, and out to the stables. The home's very own art gallery is a must-see, featuring a collection of sculptures, paintings, and chandeliers. The carriage house and kitchen at the rear of the mansion once served as slave quarters and are among the best-preserved examples in the region. The estate is often a stop on carriage tours of historic Charleston.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Aiken-Rhett House is a must-see for history buffs.
- Combined tickets are available for the Aiken-Rhett House and the Nathaniel Russell House Museum.
- Self-guided audio tours are available.
- The house is only partially wheelchair-accessible, as visitors are required to climb up and down stairs to tour the entire estate.
- Allow 90 minutes to two hours for house tours.
How to Get There
The museum is located at the corner of Judith and Elizabeth streets, only a couple of blocks from Charleston's visitor center and riverfront. Get there on foot or as part of a guided history tour.
When to Get There
The house museum is open daily. Since the attraction is largely indoors, it’s a good rainy day option.
A Powerful Southern Family
Originally built in 1820 by a local merchant, the mansion was purchased by wealthy industrialist William Aiken, Sr. in 1827 and passed to his son upon his death. In antebellum Charleston, Governor William Aiken, Jr. was one of the city’s most powerful and affluent figures. The governor and his wife moved into the Aiken-Rhett House in 1831 and twice expanded its size. The Aiken family maintained the home for 142 years before selling it to the Charleston Museum, which opened it to the public in 1975.