AAA Editor Notes
Nathaniel Russell House, 51 Meeting St., was completed in 1808 for Nathaniel Russell, a wealthy merchant. Set in a spacious garden, the house is a fine example of Federal architecture. Notable features include a freestanding staircase that spirals up three floors as well as oval drawing rooms and ornate interior detailing. Period furnishings include works by Charleston craftsmen.
Guides provide insight into how the Russell family lived and how they used the rooms—visitors are shown where the family received and entertained guests as well as where they relaxed and enjoyed such activities as sewing, reading or writing letters. Information also is provided about how African-American slaves maintained the property. Colors and decorative features within the elaborate home have been restored to their early 19th-century splendor and reflect the Russells' lavish lifestyle.
In 1857 Gov. Robert Francis Withers Allston bought the house, which his family owned until 1869. The following year the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Mercy purchased the house; these Catholic nuns ran a girls' school until 1901. The house belonged to the group until 1908, when a family moved into the home. Today, the Historic Charleston Foundation maintains the structure.
Guided tours are available.