According to many, there’s no better example of antebellum life than the Aiken-Rhett House Museum. Originally built in the early 1800s and then expanded by Gov. William Aiken Jr. and his wife in the 1830s and 1850s, much of the house’s original style has been preserved. As you wander through, pay special attention to the antique furnishings, the original wallpaper and the stunning bronze chandeliers installed by the Aiken family. Also, spend some time exploring the grounds: You can visit the slave quarters, the stables and the kitchens, all of which have been preserved to satisfy discerning history buffs.
Recent visitors praised the house tour, specifically the fact that it’s a self-guided audio tour (included with admission). Travelers said the audio tour allowed them to view the house at their own pace, without having to wait or rush to catch up to an entire group. However, visitors provided more mixed reviews of the state of the house itself. Some were pleased that the Historic Charleston Foundation chose to leave the property untouched, but others were less impressed, commenting on the need for restoration and general feeling of dilapidation exhibited throughout the house’s grounds.
Sitting a little more than a mile north of downtown Charleston, the museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (with last admission at 4 p.m.). Admission is $12 for adults and $5 for children and includes an audio tour. You can also buy a joint ticket for both the Aiken-Rhett House and the Nathaniel Russell House for $18; dual admission for children costs $10.