Aiken rhett house


Built in 1820 by merchant John Robinson, the Aiken-Rhett House is nationally significant as one of the best-preserved townhouse complexes in the nation. Vastly expanded by Governor and Mrs. William Aiken, Jr. in the 1830’s and again in the 1850’s, the house and its outbuildings include a kitchen, the original slave quarters, carriage block and back lot. The house and its surviving furnishings offer a compelling portrait of urban life in antebellum Charleston, as well as a Southern politician, slaveholder and industrialist. The house spent 142 years in the Aiken family's hands before being sold to the Charleston Museum and opened as a museum house in 1975.

The focus of the Aiken-Rhett House is to tell the story of all of those who lived on the property. A handful of these stories have been included in the new archaeological exhibit recently installed in the laundry space. A cantilevered walkway floats over the site, allowing visitors to peer down at the features uncovered during the dig. Five artifact cases illuminate artifacts specific to the women who labored here in the 19th century, and directional light illuminates the architectural features associated with the laundry room itself, including the location of the kettles and fireplaces. Archaeology shines new light on the lives and labors of the African Americans upon whose tireless work the Aiken-Rhett lifestyle depended.