Edmondston Alston House
Nestled in the heart of Charleston’s historic district, the Edmondston Alston House is a timeless representative of Southern elegance and grandeur. It was one of the first houses to be built on the Battery, a famed promenade and defensive seawall along the lower shores of the Charleston peninsula. A visit will take you straight back in time to 19th-century Charleston.
Of the many estates-turned-museums in Charleston, the Edmondston Alston House has the distinction of being the only one with a harbor view. Its interior represents not only its former inhabitants' history and legacy but also that of the city itself. From its antebellum exterior to its restored interior, Edmondston Alston House is a living relic.
Continue reading to learn more about the history of Edmondston Alston House and how to visit.
Scottish shipping merchant Charles Edmondston commissioned the house in 1825, at the peak of his career. The house’s luxurious spot on the Battery meant it was distanced from the noise and chaos deeper in the city. It was initially built in the late Federal style, but it was enhanced in the mid-19th century with Greek Revival style improvements.
In 1837, Edmondston was forced to sell the house due to financial troubles. A member of a long-established rice-planting dynasty, Charles Alston, bought the house and made the style updates; since he purchased the house, it has been passed down in the Alston family.
Edmondston Alston House also had a small, though fascinating, role to play in the Civil War: Confederate General Beauregarde, who started the Civil War, watched the bombing of Fort Sumter from Edmondston Alston, and later, General Robert E. Lee was temporarily lodged here when his uptown hotel caught fire.
The long history of Edmondston Alston is still evident in its interior today. Much of the family’s original furniture, books, decor, and other knicknacks still remain, giving visitors insight into the life of an affluent 19th century family in Charleston; the museum also addresses the legacy of enslavement that the Alstons participated in.
One of the most interesting family pieces in the house’s collection is an original print of the Ordinance of Secession, a resolution drafted by seceding Southern states prior to the Civil War. Some other important artifacts include an array of silverware, portraits, interior woodwork, and much more.
If you want to learn more about the history of the Edmondston Alston House and of Charleston, the museum offers thirty-minute guided tours throughout the week. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for students and young adults, and $5 for children.
Explore one of Charleston’s most iconic houses-turned-museums and immerse yourself in the opulent lifestyle of a 19th-century landowner. Find the house just an eight minute drive or twenty minute walk away from The Pinch.
Learn more about the best things to do in Charleston here.