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The Nathaniel Russell House Museum offers a glimpse into the lives of the mercantile elite who flourished in the late Colonial and early Federal period, the artisans and craftspeople they hired to build and adorn their opulent homes, and the enslaved men and women whose forced labor made possible their lavish lifestyles.
See inside the splendor of one of America’s most important neoclassical dwellings.
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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Nathaniel Russell arrived in Charleston from Bristol, Rhode Island in 1765 and, thanks to extensive contacts in his home colony, established himself as a successful merchant and slave trader. His 1789 marriage to Sarah Hopton Russell produced two daughters, Alicia and Sarah, and in 1808 the Russell family moved to their new townhome at 51 Meeting Street. Accompanying them were as many as eighteen enslaved people who toiled in the work yard, gardens, stable and kitchen. Russell spared little expense in the construction of his home, regarded as one of Charleston’s finest in its era with geometrically shaped rooms, elaborate plasterwork ornamentation and formal gardens. The defining architectural feature of the home is a three-story, cantilevered, flying staircase whose “…sweep is broad, treads are deep, and the rise perfectly proportioned and easy of ascent,” according to Nathaniel Russell’s great-granddaughter Alicia Hopton Middleton.
The home’s graceful, free-flying, three-story staircase is an architectural marvel with each cantilevered step supporting the one above and below it.
A National Historic Landmark, the house has been restored as nearly as possible to its 1808 appearance through the application of forensic analysis and cutting-edge conservation technology. Because restoration is an ongoing process, visitors have the opportunity to see and learn about the meticulous care, craft, and consideration that informs every detail. Historic Charleston Foundation’s most recent preservation initiative involves the kitchen house, an ancillary structure that included a kitchen, laundry, and living quarters for the enslaved. By uncovering the material history contained in that structure, the Foundation hopes to further illuminate the lives of the men, women, and children who lived and worked there.
Posted: September 12, 2022
Historic Charleston Foundation invests 100% of every donation received at the Nathaniel Russell House in the continued preservation and restoration of this historic site. With your help, we tackle projects…Learn More
Posted: September 5, 2022
American merchant ships began a direct line of trade to China shortly after the Revolutionary War and, by the end of the eighteenth century, had made the United States second…Learn More
Posted: June 6, 2022
Historic Charleston Foundation is seeking additional Historic House Interpreters for both House Museums: the 1820s Aiken-Rhett House Museum and the 1808 Nathaniel Russell House Museum. Please see job description, below,…Learn More