The Charleston, S.C. home of Henry William de Saussure, appointed by President George Washington as the second Director of the U.S. Mint, has been restored to it's original 18th century character. -Editor John Dewberry’s town house in Charleston, S.C., was standing when the British captured the city during the Revolutionary War. It was standing when the first shots of the Civil War were fired on Fort Sumter across Charleston Harbor. And it was still standing after an earthquake rocked the city in 1886. When he bought the house in 2003, Mr. Dewberry, a developer in Atlanta, wasn’t about to compete with that kind of history.
“I told everyone, ‘We’re going to take this house back to the year it was built — 1770,’ ” he said, as horse-drawn carriages filled with tourists passed by outside on a spring Friday.
It took three years, but Mr. Dewberry, 45, the chief executive of Dewberry Capital Corporation, a commercial real estate company, now has the house he envisioned. It is a luxurious 21st-century home within an 18th-century structure, architecturally correct down to the proper hand-tooling of masonry grout.
Brick makers, furniture makers, wrought-iron craftsmen, masons, coppersmiths, stoneworkers, even interns from three colleges — 32 people in all — helped Mr. Dewberry turn back time. They removed every element that wasn’t era-appropriate. What they couldn’t restore, they recreated in minute detail. Four months of research preceded the start of the project.
“John was committed to doing the research necessary to document the structure,” said James Meadors, the owner of Meadors Construction, which specializes in restoring historic architecture. “He wanted to be the current steward of the house and preserve it.”
Mr. Dewberry searched for eight years before settling on the three-story house on Meeting Street, a few blocks from Charleston’s waterfront. It had languished on the market, and for good reason. While it had a pedigree, having been the home of Henry William de Saussure, a director of the United States Mint under George Washington, it had also been a corner store for 100 years. Several ill-advised renovations later, the house needed a buyer with patience and deep pockets. Mr. Dewberry bought it for $1.5 million.
Mr. Dewberry’s primary home in Atlanta is a ranch house retooled to resemble a mountain lodge, but as a history buff, he was enchanted by Charleston’s past. “I always said, ‘If I do well enough, I’d love to have a house in downtown Charleston,’ ” he said.
To read the complete article, see: The Look of Then, the Comforts of Now (www.nytimes.com/2009/05/22/greathomesanddestinations/22Away.html?hpw)
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Wayne Homren, Editor
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