Every once in a while, we like to look back in time at those individuals and events that shaped the Charleston area and the development of our inn specifically. The Charleston area is rich with cultural influences, and a great place to visit if you have even the slightest affinity for American history. We’re often asked, who is Edward Rutledge, and how does he relate to the Governor’s House Inn in Charleston. Here is a brief overview on who is Edward Rutledge and how he relates to our inn specifically. Enjoy! Who is Edward Rutledge? Edward Rutledge was the youngest signer of the U.S. Declaration of Independence and he was an American politician living from November 23, 1749 – January 23, 1800. He would go on to also serve as the 39th Governor of South Carolina. Here is how he came to be involved with the present day Governor’s House Inn:
This wonderful home was built by James Laurens in 1760 on the site of the former Charleston Orange Garden. At the time, the Garden was actually a park where concerts were held. It is believed that in the late 1600s and early 1700s the park was the site of an actual orange grove, just outside the original walled city of old Charles Towne.
The house was designed by Miller & Fullerton as a traditional Georgian double house, with a center stairway and two large rooms on either side. This style is tall, lofty, and extremely symmetrical. The house underwent a large renovation in 1885 under the ownership of Captain Wagener. At that time, Victorian was all the rage, so the house now features a Victorian spiral staircase. The heart of pine floors, the fireplaces, and the triple-hung windows are original to the house. The fireplaces in the formal living and dining rooms are solid slate.
Edward Rutledge lived in this home from 1776 until his death, or in other words, during the formation of the United States of America. Originally, he leased the home from its owner, Mr. Laurens. In 1788 he actually purchased the home. Because of its association with Mr. Rutledge, the U.S. Department of Interior has declared it a National Historic Landmark.
During this period Mr. Rutledge was instrumental in the struggle for independence from Britain. He served in both the First and Second Continental Congress, and in 1776, at age 27, he became the youngest signer of the Declaration of Independence. He was considered so threatening to the British that after the fall of Charleston in 1780 he was captured and imprisoned in St. Augustine, Florida
Mr. Rutledge and his wife, Henrietta Middleton, were part of the prominent group of families that included Henry Middleton, who started Middleton Plantation, and his son Arthur Middleton, also a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
After independence, Mr. Rutledge served in the legislature and was a highly influential figure in American politics. He was elected Governor in 1798 but, in failing health, he died two years later while in office, hence the name Governor’s House Inn.
A portrait of Edward Rutledge hangs in the foyer, along with a copy of the Declaration of Independence.