Before and After

Before and After: Returning the Charm to a Southern Landmark

We never get tired of discovering interesting comeback stories about Southern houses with history

We never get tired of discovering interesting comeback stories about Southern houses with history, like this remarkable tale of a restoration in Beaufort, South Carolina, by the architects at Frederick & Frederick.

The Place: A classic two-over-two house on the corner of New Street and Duke Street in Beaufort, South Carolina.

The History: “In 1839, Robert Smalls was born a slave on this property,” says architect Jane Frederick. “During the Civil War, he became an army captain because he commandeered a Confederate ship and delivered it to the Union. He went on to serve in the South Carolina House of Representatives, South Carolina Senate, and was a United States Congressman for five terms.” After the Civil War, Smalls bought the nearby home in which he had been a slave, and it is now a National Historic Landmark. It is believed that this circa-1855 structure was moved to the property as part of his estate.

The Revival: Since Robert Smalls was such an important historical figure, the architects at Frederick & Frederick wanted to respect the integrity of the house while also providing basic necessities for a modern family. When work began, the original house was a traditional two-over-two configuration with a one-story wing that was added when the house was moved. At some time in the past, the original double front porches had been removed, most likely due to decay. The architects found the profile of the railings cut out of the siding on both floors, which hinted at the original structure.

In addition, there was only one adequate bathroom and virtually no storage space. To address those issues, the architects added a small second floor addition to house two new bathrooms, a master bedroom closet, and a small third bedroom. But most importantly, they recreated the double front porches, returning the house to its original form.

Our Favorite Part: The new (er, old) front porches. “The house now looks like the typical Beaufort house that it is instead of some foreign suburban transplant,” says Frederick. “We are proud of this project because when smaller structures are restored, it contributes to the entire historic fabric of the city. Often, more attention is given to large houses, and it’s very satisfying to focus on a smaller one with an important lineage.”

All photography of the renovated home courtesy of John McManus.