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The Nathaniel Russell House

If you know me, you know I love to Instagram. So, last week I was excited when the opportunity came up to attend an “Instameet” in Charleston at the historic Nathaniel Russell House.  Lauren Northup even captured of myself and Olivia Brock of A Lacquered Life instagramming it up with intensity!

This is a house I have heard a lot about, and coincidentally, my mother-in-law Mary Zahl did the original garden design during the restoration in the mid 1990’s. Sometimes, it is hard to take the time to stop and be a tourist in your own city, even one as beautiful as Charleston. They do not usually allow photos to be taken in the house, so this was a special opportunity. All my photos were taken on an iphone 5s. While I already posted some on @candyshopvintage Instagram, there are more below that I have not yet shared.

The spiral staircase is the standout feature of the early 1800’s, three story home, I could not get enough:

And the grand painting in the stairwell is a portrait of Mary-Rutledge Smith as painted by George Romney. She had something like a dozen kids by my age (33). This might be a picture of her 11th or 12th. Yikes!  I believe she was 35 when this was painted.

The colors in the house are spectacular, from the burnt orange in the stairwell to the peachy pink in the drawing room (which is actually wallpaper and not paint):

Below is the “morning room” which had the best light in the house.  Yes please, I’d like my coffee in here every morning:

Loved all the details like the ceramic knobs, the library in the closet and the incredible molding with hand gold-leafed accents:

The turquoise dining room on the first floor with the exquisite borders around the windows had to be one of my favorite rooms in terms of color:

And this is an actual portrait of Nathaniel Russell, the original owner.  He did not build the home until he was in his 70’s so it was basically his retirement home.  He was originally from Newport, Rhode Island, a city with a lot of similarities to Charleston.

This was a really fun way to take a historic home tour, especially if you are prone to being glued to your iphone like me. The Historic Charleston Foundation is hosting a second “Instameet” in another historic home, the Aiken-Rhett House next Friday June 13th.  You can sign up here.  Maybe I’ll see you there!

2 thoughts on “The Nathaniel Russell House

  1. Love seeing this! I’m an incognito history buff and touring the Nathaniel Russell house was one of the first things we did when we moved. I think one of their daughters is even named Alicia?

    We toured the Aiken-Rhett house as well, but what a good excuse to go back. Thanks for the fun post!

    • Sometimes we forget that if you bring guests on the house tour–each tour is different, people ask different questions from tour to tour and chances are the guides will have a favorite fact they may share and tell you more on that tour vs a previous tour. My most recent visit, and I have yet to do the carriage ride, was spent just wandering the streets trying to be a local. Public spaces are great. The library on Calhoun, The Library society with those awesome steps, the Gym of the College of Charleston, slip into the Lobby of Garden and Gun, walk down Columbus street with a sense of purpose, look like an Architect I suggest. Investigate the Charlotte street kitchen house from the sidewalk, image the paper route on Tradd street, oh and while you do this, wear your most comfortable, yet leather, dress shoes. I can not stress the fact to ” dress up .” I was wearing for the most part my thrift store find outfits. I looked as if I had an office job and I was on my lunch break. I was hoping to blend in and the fact we visited in the spring and fall ,the weather suited my fancy to wear lunch break attire.
      Does that sound crazy, maybe the neighbors think you are relocating and house hunting. Or better yet a College professor! or a museum director! I think I shall return to Charleston once again. One visit I purchased the official Charleston Tour Guide manual. It must be read cover to cover before one takes the test to be a licensed tour guide. I would love to sit for the test. It cost me $48 a few years ago and it is an awesome thing. If you think of all the research I did on the internet before discovering this item it is well worth the investment. And if you visit Folly Beach to see the Morris Island light house bring enough money to pay $1 per person to visit the county park. The money collected is required per visitor– please do not ignore the Honor System and proudly pay your fee and maybe others who fail to do so will realize they have done something less right.

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