1401 Middle St. — Gothic ex-church, airy extension make up Sullivan’s Island ‘castle’ with rooftop views
By JIM PARKER
The Post and Courier
At least the real estate marketers of 1401 Middle St. know their buyer group: folks who crave a castle.
More specifically in this case, it’s Mugdock Castle, 4,950 square feet in size, four tiers high and priced at $3,895,000.
Truth be told, the structure is castle-esque, not a real live medieval fortress. (This is the Colonies, after all). Although complete with two towers, up to 27-foot ceilings and block-masonry construction, the property dates no earlier than the 19th century and got its name a decade or so ago thanks to present owner Vince Graham from a 14th century edifice near Glasgow, Scotland. Sorry, no dungeon, either.
But castle or not, the residence is one of a kind. Even figuring out a value for something so rare was difficult.
“This is so hard to price because there’s not anything that’s like it on Sullivan’s Island or Charleston for that matter,” says Molly C. Glover, marketing director for The Cassina Group.
Indeed. Here’s how the property directions are noted, with tongue in cheek, in the real estate listing. “After entering Sullivan’s Island, take a right onto Middle Street. Travel 1.2 miles and Mugdock Castle will be the first beach castle on your left.”
Or consider what’s now called Winter Hall, the existing building erected 122 years ago as a chapel in the Gothic architectural style and variously housing Holy Cross Episcopal Church, the Post Chapel of Fort Moultrie and St. Mark’s Lutheran Church before being converted to a private residence.
An historically faithful 21st century restoration from Charleston-based New World Byzantine among other contractors showcases two-foot thick granite walls, black cypress hinged windows and an intricate cast-stone fireplace, according to Cassina Group.
The interlocking works of craftsmanship “create an authentic castle feel,” the realty company says.
Cassina Group foresees a particular type of potential buyer. “I think it’s the kind of people (who) have the Sword Gate inn, the house on Montagu, the home collector type,” says Jimmy Dye, partner and listing agent.
Castles aren’t a totally foreign entity locally. There are Charlestonians who own castles in Scotland, he says.
A few details stand out about Mugdock Castle. Original hammer-truss beams exposed within the grandiose main hall support the building’s slate roof. A mahogany spiral staircase, “wrought by a local master carpenter,” rises to a second floor loft, Cassina Group says. Stained glass windows remain. The loft overlooks the kitchen, dining hall, library, living room and the “throne” room — also known as a garderobe or in today’s lingo, a full bath, according to the realty.
In an intriguing use of space, the north tower showcases a bed chamber with low arched opening that would cause many people to duck, staircase to a “flag room” and then steep stairs to a private terrace “offering 360 degree views” of Fort Moultrie, downtown Charleston and Fort Sumter.
Marking the Winter Hall are design features to keep the look of a knight’s hangout while adding bookshelves, placing furniture and installing modern appliances — some with wooden facades — in the kitchen. There’s a built-in refrigerator, dishwasher and microwave, and a high-end AGA stove sports a half-dozen or so warmer drawers to heat food at various temperatures for a full-course meal or large gathering.
If the Winter Hall is a tad dark, the Summer Hall built in 2009 in the Romanesque tradition seems light all the time.
According to Cassina Group, the multistory structure built of reinforced concrete walls and “massive cypress timbers” complements the historic main building.
The Summer Hall, which connects to the front building directly and through a courtyard, contains six of the residence’s seven bedrooms. “All have been thoughtfully designed with built-in beds, wardrobes and elegantly appointed baths,” Cassina Group says.
A hallmark of the newer wing is a living room overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. “With 16-foot ceilings and carved limestone fireplace, it is flooded with warm light from heavy French doors, custom-made of old-growth white pine,” the realty notes. Wraparound porches on the second and third floors can be accessed from the two master suites, each with an outdoor shower.
Likewise, the Summer Hall touts a broad rooftop terrace with views of the ocean, harbor and Intracoastal Waterway.
Outside is the “undercroft,” a covered area that can be used for entertaining. It opens to a sprawling back lawn and a grove of olive trees. A covered archway leads under the south tower back to the Winter Hall.
For the adventuresome, there’s still a project or two left on the “castle.” The Summer Hall, for instance, is “plumbed and wired for an outdoor kitchen,” Glover says.
“The positive responses are incredible,” says Dye, citing a long-time island resident who viewed the house and was thrilled with the creative and innovative design.
The house is on the western side of Sullivan’s Island. After crossing the Ben Sawyer Bridge, make a right on Middle Street. Ahead on the left is 1401 Middle St.
Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Agent: Jimmy Dye
Office: The Cassina Group LLC Real Estate
Philosophy: “As co-founder of The Cassina Group, I’ve built a company whose passion is buying and selling real estate. I am dedicated to being involved in the well-being of the local community and aim to deliver top quality progressive agents who remain on the cutting edge of technology.”