William Blacklock House, 18 Bull Street, Charleston, Charleston County, SC
For additional documentation, see also HALS SC-14 (William Blacklock House)
2014 Charles E. Peterson Prize, Honorable Mention
Significance: Built in 1800 for William Blacklock, the Blacklock House at 18 Bull Street, Charleston, South Carolina is one of the most important Adamesque houses in the United States. William Blacklock was one of the city's wealthiest British Merchants and member of Charleston's Brank Bank of the United States. The William Blacklock House was one of the first permanent residences constructed in the Harleston Village and represents what was then a suburban retreat. Harleston Village, as the neighborhood was known by the end of the eighteenth century, is located on land north west of the original settlement of Charles Town. Property north of the old city was relatively distant from the bustle of downtown, offering residents a more secluded context than is suggested by the density surrounding the house today. At the time of its construction the house was considered one of the most elegant in the city.
The architect of the Blacklock House remains unknown, though it is speculated that it may have been designed by a gentleman architect such as William Drayton or Gabriel Manigault. Manigault is regarded as Charleston's best known gentleman architect and designer of the Branch Bank of the United States, today's City Hall, for which Blacklock was on the building committee. Similar to the Blacklock House the Branch Bank building features refined Federal.
Designed in Palladian proportions, and exemplary of the high-style Federal aesthetic, the structure is symmetrical in plan and elevation. A five bay Charleston double house, the Blacklock House stands at two-and-a-half stories with a high English basement accentuated by a projecting water table. Architecturally, the house is distinguished by a pedimented pavilion with a stoop and double staircase leading to the main entrance at the elevated first floor on the street-facing south façade. The entablature under the landing includes a frieze with rosette motif adapted by English interior designer Robert Adam from the Roman Doric order. The architrave to the front door exemplifies popular mouldings characteristic of the Federal style and popularized by Adam, including swags, dentils, and block modillions. The north facade is characterized by a Palladian window centered within the façade, above the half landing of the interior staircase. On the north side of the house is a porch attaching the recently installed free-standing elevator tower to the main floor of the building, and overlooking the back garden and Gothic Revival outbuildings which share the Blacklock site.
The interior, with a central hall plan that maintains symmetry, further exhibits the Federal style. The cornices, wainscoting, mantels, and window and door architraves are all exemplary of the high-style mannerisms of the era's architecture. The mantels and surrounds feature intricate motifs including egg and dart, bead and reel, and dentils, decorated with composite mouldings of swags, cherubs, vases, and fluttering ribbons. Accentuated by delicate gouge work, the chair rails, cornices, and architraves are elaborately crafted.
In 1973, the Blacklock House was listed in the National Register of Historic Places and designated as a National Historic Landmark, primarily due to its architectural significance. In the architectural survey of Charleston, a jury noted the house was of the highest architectural design quality, well proportioned, and architecturally sophisticated.
Unprocessed Field note material exists for this structure: N2026
Survey number: HABS SC-109
Building/structure dates: 1800 Initial Construction
Building/structure dates: after. 1970- before. 1979 Subsequent Work
Building/structure dates: 2008 Subsequent Work
National Register of Historic Places NRIS Number: 73001681