Charleston’s Calhoun Mansion garden sparkles

Late last month I visited Charleston following the wedding of a family friend. During the visit, I had the chance to stop by the largest private residence in town: the Calhoun Mansion.

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The 24,000 sq. ft. Italianate-style home was owned originally by railroad financier Patrick Calhoun. The Howe family purchased it after the stock market crash on “Black Thursday” in 1929. Recently, a litigation lawyer bought it for $9.5 million to showcase his extensive antiques collection.

It was run-down in the 1970s and almost bulldozed before Gedney Howe III put millions of dollars into renovations. Now, it’s immaculate.

DSC_0615The house is filled to the gills with antiques from all over the world. It reminded me of the Sir John Sloane House in London, which is an architectural museum of antiquity. But, honestly, it’s overpacked, and that takes away from the overall interior presentation.

The most beautiful aspect of the house, I think, is its garden. The topiary and sculpture are well kept, with Mercury–messenger of the gods–showcased. Hints of Japanese design are interspersed. All around, the garden feels more classical than southern, but it works, and definitely creates a unique sense of place amongst the palm trees that line the street.

While in town, I stayed at the Two Meeting Street Inn, which is down the street and owned by Calhoun’s daughter.

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