It’s an unlikely home for sale that rates a “quote” from Rhett Butler, punctuating a 45-page real estate guide full of history, maps and colorful photos.
“I’m going to Charleston, back where I belong,” the dashing hero/cad of “Gone with the Wind” says. “I want peace. I want to see if somewhere there isn’t something left in life, of charm and peace.”
The address, 23 Legare St., actually can claim indirect links to the fictional character. Built circa 1838, the house withstood the Civil War — the theme of the movie epic starring Clark Gable as Butler. Financier and blockade runner George A. Trenholm, who has been suggested as the “real-life” Rhett Butler, briefly owned 23 Legare.
Known at the Robert Trail Chisolm house for the planter who built the residence, 23 Legare would not be so fortunate in the earthquake of 1886: a witness described the house as “badly hurt.”
Yet, the Charleston single house remained largely fortified and soon would be renovated. It would remain in the Sass family until 1960 and had a single-family owner since then.
Today, 23 Legare maintains its structural roots: original hardwood floors, six fireplaces, piazzas on all three levels and an adjacent guest house. The property lists for $3,795,000.
“It’s only once in a generation a place like this comes along,” says H. Middleton Rutledge, Realtor with Daniel Ravenel Sotheby’s International Realty and listing agent.
“The Pratt-Thomas family lived at 23 Legare since the early 1960s and until the passing of Mary Pratt Thomas in 2012,” he says. “This was just the way it was (when last lived in),” Rutledge said, before leading guests into the house Monday. “I had three showings last week and one tomorrow,” he says.
The estate sits well back from Legare Street, hardly visible from the street and only reachable through wrought iron gates by way of a half-block long driveway.
“It’s a very rare opportunity to own (downtown property) with this much history and privacy,” Rutledge says.
Ample size marks the property. The three-story main residence and two-level carriage house, which combined total 6,155 square feet, sits on a half-acre of land. The property includes a walkway, landscaped lawn and variety of trees and flowering plants including palmetto, crepe myrtle, magnolia, bamboo, boxwood, camellia and grand live oaks. A circle-shaped driveway offers plenty of off-street parking.
Rutledge says the 5,000-square-foot main house could use restoration work, which gives interested parties the chance to put their mark on the property.
“We are looking for a wealthy buyer who appreciates the history and charm,” he says.
The pink stucco-over-masonry house includes large columns with dark shutters on all the windows. Wood siding covers the back side of the house, added as a repair from the 1886 earthquake damage, Rutledge says.
Interior heart of pine floors and fireplaces with intricate design work, wooden mantels and, in one case, a marble surround date at least to the 1850s, Rutledge says. An owner likely added a coal-burning fireplace in the 1870s or ’80s.
Two large first floor rooms would make fitting double parlors or a formal living room and dining room, he says. The lengthy kitchen with built-in stove marks the back of the first floor.
Modern day central heat keeps the house warm in winter. There’s no central air conditioning but it can be installed, Rutledge says.
The likely best use for the second floor includes bedroom suites, and there’s two bedrooms and two baths on the third level. French doors open to the three piazzas, all extra wide.
The 19th century guest house — likewise in need of a makeover — sports two chimneys, a sizable bedroom, full bath and living room.
The 23 Legare St. locale goes on the market during an improving time for high-end homes in the historic district.
“We have seen a significant uptick in the upper echelon of the downtown real estate market so far in 2013,” Rutledge says. “There have already been 20 closings on the peninsula this year for $2.5 million or more. In 2012, there were only seven homes that traded above the $2.5 million mark,” he says. “This clearly illustrates strong demand for premiere homes in Charleston.”
Meanwhile, home inventory south of Broad Street “has steadily sold” for the last year to year-and-a-half. “We are currently only sitting on about a year’s worth of inventory South of Broad. There are currently only 88 properties for sale (in the sector),” he says.
The 23 Legare property sits among a number of notable addresses, including the Sword Gate House at 32 Legare and Pineapple Gates House at 14 Legare. Traveling south on the peninsula, take Ashley Avenue to Broad Street. Make a left on Broad and proceed six blocks. Turn right on Legare Street. Cross Tradd Street and continue past several houses. Look for an entry on the right. Ahead is 23 Legare St.
For more information and photos, visit www.postandcourier.com/realestate.
Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Agent: H. Middleton Rutledge
Office: Daniel Ravenel Sotheby’s International Realty
Philosophy: “I specialize in downtown historical homes and luxury coastal properties.”
The 23 Legare St. house, which rises three stories, shows off original hardwood floors. Leroy Burnell/Staff 10/18/2013×
This large room off the kitchen could be a living room or a second parlor in the 5,000-square-foot residence. Leroy Burnell/Staff 10/18/2013×
A chandelier hangs over the floor of this second floor room with cabinet space. Leroy Burnell/Staff 10/18/2013×
The master bedroom comes with a circular etching on the ceiling and a fireplace with wooden mantel and marble surround. Leroy Burnell/Staff 10/18/2013×
The kitchen includes a full set of appliances and checkerboard floor. Leroy Burnell/Staff 10/18/2013×
A long driveway connects the sizable house, built in 1838, with Legare Street. Leroy Burnell/Staff 10/18/2013×
In an unusual feature, the Charleston single style house showcases three levels of piazzas. Leroy Burnell/Staff 10/18/2013×
A bird house is in the courtyard at 23 Legare St. Leroy Burnell/Staff 10/18/2013×
This two story guest house sits behind the main house at 23 Legare. Leroy Burnell/Staff 10/18/2013×
The guest house contains dual fireplaces. Leroy Burnell/Staff 10/18/2013×
The guest quarters takes in a full kitchen. Leroy Burnell/Staff 10/18/2013×
A brick marker at the front of the driveway guides guests to 23 Legare. Leroy Burnell/Staff 10/18/2013×