Nathaniel Russell House, 51 Meeting Street, Charleston, Charleston County, SC
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For additional documentation, see also HALS SC-12 (Nathaniel Russell House)
2018 Leicester B. Holland Prize, Entry
Significance: The Nathaniel Russell house is a National Historic Landmark. It is an exceptional example of Adam Style architecture constructed in 1808. The house exhibits brilliant craftsmanship in every inch including the slave sections of the house which was not designed to be visible to public. At the Russell house the two worlds intersect at the third story level through a staircase connection from the attic to the former bathroom which is now replaced by a stairwell.
The staircase under study was designed to be used only by slaves yet it surprisingly shows brilliant craftsmanship indicating that even secondary spaces were well thought off and were designed with geometric and architectural precision. The study of this architectural feature gives insight into the astute precision of craftsman, their style of construction and the tools they used.
The compact design of a winder staircase supported on a central wooden post, indicates that the staircase was designed and executed off site and on site. The boards lining the internal side of the straight flight are roughly 10-12 inches wide and have a have a distinct white wash which might indicate original finishing. Although the staircase was not to be seen by public, all faces are finished with molding profiles similar to the Main house or relating to the time and style of construction.
Historic documents and drawings indicate the the staircase spanned all three floors and acted as a primary vertical connection; however today only one part of it survives.
Survey number: HABS SC-145
Building/structure dates: ca. 1811 Initial Construction
National Register of Historic Places NRIS Number: 71000750