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Legare Street

Photo: 29 Legare St. c.1835

Legare Street was early called Johnson's Street, for Sir Nathaniel Johnson, Governor of the Province, 1703-09. Later it was named for Solomon Legare, a prosperous Huguenot silversmith who owned considerable real estate at Legare and Tradd streets. (Smith & Smith, Dwelling Houses, 211, 237; Rhett & Steel, 16; "Streets of Charleston.")


1 Legare St.
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-- Tradition says this frame house was place on rollers and moved down the street to provide a garden for 14 Legare Street. (Stoney, News & Courier, March 25, 1948.)

4 Legare St. c.1777
IMAGE: ON RIGHT -- Kincaid's Western Tenement, built c. 1777 as the western half of a double tenement, by George Kincaid. The site was part of a former marsh which he, Robert Mackenzie, Edward Blake and William Gibbes walled and filled in the early 1770s. The balconies are similar in pattern to the balcony on the Daniel Ravenel House, 68 Broad St. The house has unspoiled Georgian interiors. The eastern tenement is 28 Lamboll St. (Stockton, DYKYC, Feb. 23, 1974.)

5 Legare St.
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7 Legare St. c.1887
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-- Henry Laurens built this house in 1887-90, on the foundations of his previous brick house which had been ruined by the 1886 earthquake. He built a two and one-half story frame house with the half story in a gambrel roof. The house was extensively remodeled in the 1930s, by Dr. Joseph l. Waring, in the Colonial Revival style. Dr. Waring was a noted medical historian and a prominent physician. (Waring, DYKYC, March 8, 1937.)

8 Legare St. c.1857
This large ltalianate house was built c. 1857. lt was the home of the late Burnet Rhett Maybank, mayor, Governor and U.S. Senator. According to architectural historian Samuel Gaillard Stoney, the contractor for the house was Patrick O'Donnell. (Stoney, News & Courier, April 15, 1964; ______, This is Charleston, 67.)

9 Legare St. c.1817
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-- Built by William Harth between 1817 and 1825, this residence was enlarged and remodeled in the Colonial Revival style sometime around the turn of the century. Apparently built as a rental unit, the house was subsequently the home of Charles Macbeth, mayor of Charleston during the Civil War, and later of U.S. District Judge William H. Brawley. (Stockton, DYKYC, Feb. 25, 1980.)

10 Legare St. c.1857
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-- This large house was built c. 1857 by Edward North Thurston. According to Stoney, the building contractor was Patrick O'Donnell. (Stoney, News & Courier, April 15, 1964.)

14 Legare St. c.1800
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-- This three and one-half story Adamesque brick house on a high basement was built c. 1800 by Francis Simmons. Simmons, a John' s lsland planter, lived here while his wife lived at 131 Tradd St., where he left her on their wedding day. Their relationship was described as "casual though friendly." The so-called "pineapple" gates were added by George Edwards, a merchant and planter, after he purchased the property in 1816. His initials appear in the ironwork on either side of the piazza entrance. This was the home, from 1900 to 1930, of Mayor J. Adger Smyth. More recently, it was the home of Lt. Gov. Nancy Stevenson. (Stoney, News & Courier, March 25, 1948; _____, This is Charleston, 67; Smith & Smith, Dwelling Houses, 211-221.)

15 Legare St. c.1772
IMAGE: ON RIGHT -- John Fullerton, who built several fine houses for others, built this one for himself, c. 1772. Fullerton, born in Scotland, was one of the "Liberty Tree Boys," AKA "Sons of Liberty," who met in Mazyck's pasture in 1766 to celebrate the repeal of the Stamp Act. Fullerton died on the eve of the Revolution. Tradition says his house was occupied by British staff officers in 1780-82. (Ravenel, Architects, 38; Stoney, N&C, April 19, 1964; Waring, DYKYC, Feb. 4, 1935; Stoney, This is Charleston, 67; Walsh, Sons of Liberty, 31, 50, 64, 72.)

16 Legare St. c.1795
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-- Miss Amarinthea Elliott, plantress, built this house c. 1795. The three and one-half story frame house is simple in detail with the features transitional between Georgian and Federal, typical of houses built in the period after the Revolution. (Stoney, News & Courier, March 26, 1949. _____, This is Charleston, 67.)

17 Legare St. c.1796
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-- Anthony Toomer, a veteran of the American Revolution and a master builder, built this two story frame house as a rental unit, c.1796. Thomas F. Purse acquired the property in 1830, and added the two story brick front portion. (Stockton, unpub. notes.)

21 Legare St. c.1843
IMAGE -- William C. Gatewood, a Virginia-born factor, built this two story brick house on a high brick basement between 1843 and 1852. Windows on the left mask the piazza. Gatewood was actively interested in the lottery business and was associated with the South Carolina Lottery. (Stoney, N&C, April 12, 1964; ____, This is Charleston, p. 68.)

22 Legare St. c.1764
IMAGE: ON RIGHT -- This two and one-half story wooden house was built c. 1764 by Charles Elliott, planter in St Paul's Parish. His Sandy Hill Plantation was visited in 1791 by President George Washington, who was kinsman of Elliott's son-in-law, Col . William Washington. The house has fine Georgian woodwork. (Stockton, DYKYC, March 8, 1976.)

23 Legare St. c.1838
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 -- Built c. 1838 by Dr. Robert Trail Chisolm, this house is set back from the street. lt was purchased in 1863 by the Sass family and was the home of Herbert Ravenel Sass, the noted writer-historian and naturalist. The iron gates at the entrance are said to date from c. 1817. Tradition says a ghost appears only to members of the Chisolm family. (Stoney, This is Charleston, 68; Smith & Smith, Dwelling Houses, 221-222.)

25 Legare St.
This was a residence with two pillared porticoes, which was severely damaged by the 1886 earthquake, and rebuilt to this appearance. (Whitelaw & Levkoff, 72-73.)

26 Legare St.
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29 Legare St. c.1835
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-- This three and one-half story frame dwelling on a high brick basement was built c. 1835 for the Rev. Paul Trapier Gervais, who reused the first floor of a brick house built before 1788. Gervais was for many years the rector of St. John's Episcopal Church on John's lsland. ln 1851 he published a pamphlet opposing secession and in 1854 published three volumes of sermons. In 1895, Josephine Pinckney, the novelist, was born here. (Stoney, This is Charleston, p. 68; DYKYC, Dec. 24, 1945.)

31 Legare St c.1789
IMAGE: ON RIGHT -- Built c. 1789 by Mrs. William Heyward, this two and one-half story wooden house has Adamesque interior details, particularly handsome in the second floor drawing room, which has a Palladian window in the curving south bay. Mrs. Heyward (Hannah Shubrick) was a sister-in-law of Thomas Heyward, who signed the Declaration of Independence. She was a successful rice planter in her own right. The house is said to be haunted by the ghost of her son, who fatally shot himself in a hunting accident, and appeared in the same hour to his sister, in the library of this house. Mrs. Heyward's daughter, Mrs. William Drayton, allowed a Santo Domingan refugee, Julie Datty, to operate a school for young ladies here, 1830-37, after which Mlle. Datty entered a religious order and died as its head. The property was purchased in 1870 by Augustine T. Smythe, a prominent lawyer, in whose family it remains. (Stoney, Charleston's Famous Houses, 1950, pp. 36-37; _____, This is Charleston, p. 68.)

32 Legare St. c.1818
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-- Sword Gates House. Before 1740, Solomon Legare, a Huguenot silversmith, acquired a large tract at the southeast corner of Legare and Tradd street and built a house which afterwards disappeared. This part of his property passed to his granddaughter, Elizabeth Legare, whose second husband, lsaac Holmes, survived her. Holmes, a Revolutionary Patriot, was governor in 1791-92 and customs collector in 1791-97. Two German merchants, Jacob E. A. Steinmetz and Paul Emil Lorent, bought up the Holmes property in parcels between 1803 and 1818. Before 1818, they built both the masonry and frame portions of the house and linked them together with a frame addition, as the three portions appear on a plat of that year. Also appearing on the plat is the brick wall on Legare Street, which disproves the legend that Madame Talvande built the wall to prevent the girls at her boarding school from eloping -- the wall was already there when her husband, Andrew Talvande, bought the property in 1819. However, the elopment which inspired the legend is apparently true. Col. Joseph Whaley's daughter, Maria, and George W. Morris of New Jersey, main characters in the story, were married in 1828. Because of a law prohibiting aliens from owning property, an act of the Assembly was necessary in 1835 to confirm Madame Talvande's right to inherit the property from her husband, who had died without becoming a U. S. citizen. ln 1849 the property was purchased by George A. Hopley, a merchant and British consul. Noted for his elegant hospitality, Hopley added a game room and some details in the Empire style, such as the marble mantel in the ballroom. Hopley also added the famous Sword Gates, which had been made a decade earlier by Christopher Werner. The ironworker had been commissioned in 1838 to make iron gates with Roman swords for the Guard House at Broad and Meeting streets, and made one more pair than was needed. The crossed swords are symbols of authority. A subsequent owner, Robert Adger, is said to have planted the avenue of magnolias in 1856. ln 1881, this became the home of Judge Charles H. Simonton, speaker of the S.C. House of Representatives and U. S District and Circuit Judge. Author Hervey Allen was a tenant here in 1921-22. Mrs. Jessie Lincoln Randolph, a granddaughter of Abraham Lincoln, owned the property in the '30s but never lived here. The house is reputed to have several ghosts. The masonry and frame portions were divided into two residences in 1960. The masonry portion is now an inn as well as a home, with a Tradd Street address. The former outbuilding of Tradd Street is also a separate residence. (Stockton, DYKYC, Aug. 18, 1975; Smith & Smith, Dwelling Houses, 222-223; Deas, Early Ironwork, pp.31-32.)

35 Legare St. c.1828
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-- This two and one-half story frame single house was built before 1828, when it was mentioned in the will of Rebecca Screven. She built the house on property inherited from her mother, Mrs. Elizabeth Williams. The property was purchased in 1879 by Louis J. McCord, wife of Edward McCord, editor of Statutes at Large of South Carolina. A daughter of Langdon Cheves, who was president of the Bank of the United States, she was one of the most prominent women writers in antebellum South Carolina. (Greene, unpub. MS; SCHS.)

37 Legare St. c.1818
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-- James Streater Glenn, a planter, built this house sometime between 1818 when he acquired the land and 1822 when he sold it "with improvements." He inherited the site from John Glenn, who assembled the back parts of two lots fronting on Tradd Street, by 1789. lnitially this was a plain single house; the extension on the north side was added in the early 1920s. Augustine Smythe bought the property in 1903 for his daughter, Susan Bennett, wife of John Bennett (1865-1956). Bennett was a native of Ohio who became famous for his novels about Charleston -- Madame Margot, The Doctor to the Dead, The Treasure of Peyre Gaillard. He also wrote children's books and the first scholarly treatise on the Gullah dialect, c. 1905. The Poetry Society of South Carolina was founded by Bennett, Hervey Allen (author of Anthony Adverse ) and DuBose Heyward. Bennett introduced Heyward to a publisher, and Porgy was born, over drinks in this house. (Greene, unpub. MS; SCHS.)

Legare Street, from Tradd to Broad, originally was named Friend Street, in honor of the Society of Friends, or Quakers. From Broad to Queen, the street was named Allen, for the man who allowed it to be cut through his property. Later, Allen became part of Friend and after 1900 the entire length became Legare Street.

39 Legare St. c.1852
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-- The three and one-half story brick house was built c. 1852 by Mrs. Mary Jane Fraser or before 1852 by John E. Glen. (DYKYC, May 21, 1951; Stoney, This is Charleston, p.69.)

43 Legare St. c.1759
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-- This three and one-half story brick house was built c. 1759 by Charles Elliott, whose daughter Jane married Col. William Washington, the Revolutionary hero. The facade was remodeled in 1911. (DYKYC, June 14, 1937; Greene, unpub. MS; SCHS.)

67 Legare St. c.1859
Crafts School. The Friend Street school, built in 1859, was designed by architect Edward C. Jones. lt burned in 1861. The present four story Gothic Revival building, designed by architects Abrahams & Seyle, was built in 1881 and is said to have been patterned closely after the original. The building was remodeled in 1915 by architect David B. Hyer who designed the three story brick north wing. The school was named for William Crafts, a statesman, lawyer, writer and a major proponent of free schools. (Fraser, Reminiscences, 82-85; Ravenel, Architects, p. 218; Stockton, DYKYC, May 4, 1981.)