Historic Structures

Building Description William Gibbes House, Charleston South Carolina

The William Gibbes House, built sometime between 1772 and 1779, and probably before the Revolution, is a large, two-story, frame house, built upon a high English basement of carefully dressed stone. The carefully modulated rhythms of this consummately robust Georgian facade are highlighted by triangular forms and by a series of consoles. The elevation is centered on an attic-story triangular pediment which itself is centered on the triangular pediment of the door surround. The latter is part of a perfectly proportioned little aedicule, composed of four wooden pilasters, the triangular pediment, with mutules, and a carefully carved frieze, with triglyphs and guttae. These larger triangles are echoed in the four windows of the first floor, two on either side of the entrance. The console chord is sounded most forcefully in a pair of heavy and richly-carved consoles with acanthus leaves supporting the base of the attic pediment. It is then reflected diminutively beneath each of the windows at both the first and second floors.

The modillions at the cornice level are carried around all sides of the building, and the building is roofed by a tiled hipped roof. The double staircase is graced by a fine iron rail, the whole of this approach being added about 1794.

The Gibbes House has the usual Georgian four-room double-pile floor plan, known in Charleston simply as a double house. The entrance hall from the south, extends through the house and is divided near midpoint by marbellized columns, while the stair hall is located at the north end of this most impressive room. The stairway there is lit by a large palladian window, and features a slender rail with iron ballusters dating from the Civil War period. The beautiful interiors, including doors and mantels, were generally redone in the Adam style, about 1794. The south rooms on both floors, however, are fully panelled, while the north rooms have plaster and wallpapers. The most elaborate room is probably the 20' X 34' Ballroom on the upper floor, where a coved ceiling has its focus in the plaster ceiling medallions and corner fans.