Gov. William Aiken House

Also known as: Robinson-Aiken House, Aiken-Rhett House
48 Elizabeth St., Charleston, South Carolina


Historic American Buildings Survey, Louis I. Schwartz, Photographer July, 1958 WEST AND SOUTH SIDES.

Photo taken for the Historic American Buildings Survey


Street View 


An unusually complete surviving example of a fine ante bellum planter's town house group, once the home of Governor William Aiken. -- Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS SC-269)

The Governor William Aiken House is significant both in terms of its architecture and its history. The main portion of the Governor William Aiken House was erected ca. 1820 by John Robinson, a merchant. In 1827, William Aiken, Sr. acquired the house. Aiken was president of the South Carolina Canal and Railroad Company and was a member of the state House of Representatives from 1824 until his death in 1831. After his father’s death, William Aiken, Jr. acquired the property. A rice planter, Aiken served in the state House of Representatives (1838-1841), as well as in the state Senate (1842-1844). From 1844 to 1846 he served as Governor of South Carolina, and later served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives (1851-1857). The house exemplifies the changes which occurred in architectural design during the first half of the nineteenth century, reflecting late Federal period, Greek Revival, and Victorian period influences. It is three stories high and is constructed of stucco over brick. Quoins decorate the corners, while the basement level has been scored to resemble stone. The entrance façade was originally designated on that which is now the south (right side) façade. It features a Doric double piazza of two-stories with a pediment at attic level. A semicircular fanlight graces the pediment while elaborate consoles with acanthus leaves accentuate either end. The tin roof is hipped and the restrained cornice features modillions. The structure was extensively altered ca. 1833 and a one-story wing designed as an art gallery was added in 1857-58. Included within the nominated acreage are several outbuildings: a large kitchen building containing three kitchens, workrooms, and servant quarters on the second story, in addition to a stable, two Gothic style brick privies, and two shed structures. Listed in the National Register November 21, 1977. - SCDAH

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on November 21, 1977
Reference number
NR name
Aiken, Gov. William, House
Architectural styles
Mid 19th Century Revival: Exotic Revival; Victorian; Federal
Areas of significance
Archeology - Non-Aboriginal; Politics/Government; Architecture
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
C - Design/Construction; B - Person; D - Information Potential
Property type
Historic functions
Single dwelling; Secondary structure
Periods of significance
1900-1924; 1875-1899; 1850-1874; 1800-1824; 1825-1849
Significant years
ca. 1820; 1833; 1857
Number of properties
Contributing buildings: 3
Contributing sites: 1

Update Log 

  • July 15, 2014: Updated by Michael Miller: Added "Alternate Name", "Description" & "Street Views"
  • July 7, 2012: Imported photos from HABS/HAER