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Hours & Info

Daily: 10am - 5pm

* Self-guided tours. Last tour begins at 4:15.

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If these walls could talk

They’d tell you a compelling tale of urban life in antebellum Charleston through the eyes of the powerful and wealthy Governor and Mrs. William Aiken, Jr. and the enslaved Africans who maintained their house, property, and way of life.

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Explore three distinctive periods in architectural design and the lives of a powerful Southern family.

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For groups of 12 or more, please contact the house manager to reserve a tour. Discounts apply.

Visit both museums to experience two different preservation methods and save $6 on adult tickets by purchasing a combination ticket.

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The History of the 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 1830s and again in the 1850s, 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 house and its surviving furnishings offer a compelling portrait of urban life in antebellum Charleston

When the Foundation assumed ownership in 1995, we adopted a preserved-as-found preservation approach, meaning the structure and contents are left in an “as-found” state, including furniture, architecture and finishes that have not been altered since the mid 19th century. The only restored room in the house, the art gallery, showcases paintings and sculpture the Aiken family acquired on their European Grand Tour.

While many dependency buildings in Charleston have been demolished or adapted, the Aiken-Rhett slave quarters – with their original paint, floors and fixtures – survive virtually untouched since the 1850s, allowing visitors the unique chance to better comprehend the every-day realities of the enslaved Africans who lived on-site, maintained the household and catered to the needs of the Aiken family and their guests.

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Blog Posts

  • Gilded Splendor

    Posted: October 8, 2017

    For years HCF staff members have longed to restore the beautifully ornate frames surrounding the Madonna of the Chair and Romeo and Juliet paintings in the Aiken-Rhett collection. Over 150…

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  • Aiken-Rhett House: A Family Legacy

    Posted: August 25, 2017

    The Aiken-Rhett House Museum, c. 1820, is a unique survivor. The house descended in the Aiken-Rhett family for 142 years until it was sold to The Charleston Museum and opened…

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  • Insight into Lives of the Enslaved at ARH

    Posted: August 25, 2017

    Archaeology at the Aiken-Rhett House is providing insight into the lives of the enslaved at the property. Prior to the Civil War, the Aiken-Rhett House was maintained by a population…

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Hours & Info

Daily: 10am - 5pm

* Self-guided tours. Last tour begins at 4:15.

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