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Title 64 South Battery (William Gibbes House)
Object Type Property File
Scope & Content Constructed ca. 1772; altered ca. 1795-1810; restored and altered 1929; restored 1986. Once the house of one of Charleston's wealthiest pre-Revolutionary merchant-planters, the dwelling presently known as 64 South Battery was intended to be viewed, not from the street, but from the Ashley River channel by boats approaching Gibbes's impressive 300-foot wharf. Adjacent to the wharf the owner had a host of stores, warehouse support structures, and a coffeehouse. Gibbes completed this wood double house with elaborate tabernacle-framed windows and console-bracketed central pediment in 1772; he enjoyed the property only briefly. In the occupation of Charleston in 1780 Gibbes was interned in St. Augustine, his family was evicted from the house, and the building was used as a hospital by the British army. A room-by-room inventory taken after Gibbes's death in 1789 mentioned extensive furnishings in rooms such as those on the first floor described as the "Front Blue Parlour" and the "Front Wainscot Parlour." Gibbes kept twenty-two slaves on his town property. The estate sold the property to Sarah Moore Smith, a widow, in 1794. Mrs. Smith or her son Peter made significant alterations to the house with Neoclassical mantels and door surrounds in the large upstairs drawing room and adjoining chamber, and a Federal style wrought-iron balustrade and columns in the large central hall. Mrs. Smith was the grandmother of the famous Sarah and Angelina Grimké, abolitionists and pioneers of women's rights who grew up at 321 East Bay Street. In 1928 Cornelia Roebling of New York, a native of South Carolina and daughter-in-law of the designer of the Brooklyn Bridge, bought the house and made a number of alterations, including the installation of a an 18th century chinoiserie style room on the first floor and an extensive garden designed by Loutrel Briggs. Briggs rediscovered the double-axial parterre of the late-18th century in the eastern front yard and restored it as a rose garden for Mrs. Roebling. He augmented the rest of the site with additional features including an allée and a garden pool with a fountain in the best Colonial Revival manner, completing this project in 1933. The grounds of the William Gibbes site offer a unique perspective on an elite Charleston town property in evolution since the 18th century. The original kitchen and washhouse and the antebellum stable-carriage house block of brick and tabby construction with tile roofing have survived largely intact, although the stable was converted to garages with servants' rooms above in 1929-30. Other early landscape features include the brick wall with arched, stuccoed recesses that surrounds the 140-by-268 foot lot (.83 acres), constructed in the 1830s; a brick privy (or "rabbit house" in Albert Simons's 1929 drawing); and a "tea house" with romantic curvilinear gables shading a marble relief, identical to that on the family tomb at Magnolia Plantation.

Nine folders contain documentation of the easement on the property including related correspondence and Confirmation of Understanding; Part I certification (National Register); documentation related to the sale of the property including letter of conceptual approval (Jan. 2006); annual inspection reports, requests for alterations, and correspondence related to the management of the property; correspondence and other documentation related to HCF's purchase and sale of the property including appraisal; FOHG house histories (1956, 1966, 1968, 1991 [dependency], 1994, 2001) and other tour interpretations including HCF's vernacular architecture tour; narrative histories and architectural descriptions including building history from Architectural Guide to Charleston (by Simons & Thomas); newspaper articles (including 1975, DYKYC); entry from 60 Famous Houses; historical/chain-of-title research information; copy of HCF easement information card (TMS number, year of construction, significant resident(s), deed research, deed restrictions, measurements, and tax information); archaeological report.

See Easement Documentation Photo Files for easement donation photographs (Exh. B to Deed of Conservation Easement) and Covenant/Easement Inspection Photo Files for inspection photography.
Subjects Historic buildings--South Carolina--Charleston
Historic gardens
Search Terms South Battery
Easement Property
National Register of Historic Places
Loutrel Briggs garden
Physical Description 2 Gift Folders
1 Management Folder
6 History/Miscellaneous Info Folders
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Object ID # SBATTERY.064.1