Grand Entrance #13315
This grand staircase done in intricate wrought iron and white marble is part of an old historic home in beautiful Old Charleston South Carolina. It was the home of John Rutledge, a governor of South Carolina and also a signer of the United States Constitution. The building was completed in 1763 by an unknown architect and an obviously skilled one at that.
The curved white marble stairs and ornate wrought iron railings spiral toward the porch and door. The tall and intricate wrought iron fence decorated with fleur-de-lis is imposing, but not too much. Everything is in balance visually, both horizontally and vertically. Noticeably, all the detailed and ornate wrought iron work is contrasted against the wide areas of smooth white marble steps and the high white walls. The effect easily draws the eye up toward the door. Once again, all is in visual balance.
The black and white checkered sidewalk laid diagonally is unique and still in place although worn and weathered. Surprisingly, the sidewalk is lasting rather well through time but I don’t know if it was installed back in 1763 when the house was built. The diagonal lay of the blocks makes a striking complement overall, providing a visual base for the grand staircase. Laying the black and white sidewalk blocks parallel to the house would not have had the same visual effect.
Further, I wonder how much of the material for this house was available in the colonies when it was built. I’d suspect the marble and wrought iron were imported from Europe or England during construction, very fitting for a grand staircase.
The original owner of this house was John Rutledge, a man who figured largely in the formation of the United States out of the original colonies. He is considered one of the American founding fathers through his work as a politician, statesman, and jurist, notably at the federal level but he also led his native South Carolina as governor as well.
John Rutledge was a London-trained lawyer who kept a very successful practice in Charleston through his adult life which made him wealthy. A capable and intelligent person, he was active politically through the colonial years and dealt with the English crown on governing affairs. Later, he was part of the Continental Congress and helped form and word the US Constitution as the South Carolina representative. Rutledge was also elected governor of South Carolina twice, ably leading his state through the Revolutionary War years against the British. At one point after the war, President George Washington appointed him the temporary Chief Justice of the United States for a brief term.
Location: Old Charleston, South Carolina. Picture and story © Andrew Dierks
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