James Nicholson House

Also known as: Ashley Hall School
172 Rutledge Ave., Charleston, South Carolina


James Nicholson House, Facade

South Carolina Department of Archives and History

View this photo at nationalregister.sc.gov


Street View 


Constructed ca. 1816, Ashley Hall was once the home of wealthy Charleston merchants. Distinctive architecturally, it has served since 1909 as a preparatory school for girls. James Nicholson owned the property from 1829 to 1838. In 1838 James Pringle bought the house. Pringle was a prominent Unionist during the Nullification controversy and a member of the state legislature from 1808 to 1818. At the time he bought the house, he was the collector of customs for the Port of Charleston. Pringle sold the house to George A. Trenholm in 1845. Trenholm was a wealthy merchant and financier who became Secretary of the Confederate Treasury in 1864. The Classical Revival building was constructed of stuccoed brick painted white and is two stories over a high basement with rusticated masonry. The portico is supported by four giant-order unfluted Ionic columns with Renaissance capitals in Palladian stance upon balustraded pedestals. The pediment is denticulated and has in it triptych Gothic windows. The basement’s front elevation has a central segmented arch flanked to either side by a semicircular arch. Originally open, the arches have been glazed. The portico façade is a deeply-convex apse with second story balconies and wrought iron railings. The water table is sandstone. After decades of use as a private residence, Mary Vardrine McBee found Ashley Hall in 1909, a preparatory school for girls. Listed in the National Register August 30, 1974. - SCDAH

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on August 30, 1974
Reference number
NR name
Nicholson, James, House
Areas of significance
Commerce; Education; Politics/Government; Architecture
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
A - Event; C - Design/Construction; B - Person
Property type
Historic function
Single dwelling
Current function
Period of significance
Significant year
ca. 1816

Update Log 

  • November 24, 2022: New Street View added by Michael Miller
  • August 18, 2014: Photo imported by Michael Miller
  • July 16, 2014: Updated by Michael Miller: Added "Description" & "Street View"
  • July 16, 2014: New Street View added by Michael Miller