James Simmons house on Meeting Street sells for near record downtown

Erected in the 1760s, the James Simmons house at 37 Meeting St. sold recently for $7.51 million.

A “classic Charleston home” dating to pre-Revolutionary War times, damaged in the 1886 earthquake and residence over the years of a lawyer, merchant and writer sold for $7.51 million in mid-June.

Lyles Geer of William Means Real Estate closed on the 8,384-square-foot James Simmons House at 37 Meeting St., considered the second highest residential transaction in downtown Charleston, according to the real estate agency.

Built in the 1760s by Charleston attorney James Simmons, the house is notable as Gen. P.T. Beauregard’s principal Confederate headquarters during the Civil War. Former Gov. Robert Gibbes; Charleston merchant Otis Mills, builder of the nearby Mills House; and Frank Gilbreth, author of “Cheaper by the Dozen,” owned 37 Meeting St. at different times.

“This house is a historic gem in the heart of downtown Charleston,” says Geer, broker with William Means Real Estate. “The rare architecture, beautiful gardens and storied past make this house a classic Charleston home.”

More than 250 years after its construction, the James Simmons House still has its Georgian-era floor plan “defined by a central hall with four flanking formal rooms,” and also retains a mid-19th century double-breasted addition at the façade. Such features “define the residence as a rare and exceptional architectural resource within Charleston’s historic district,” according to William Means.

The Great Earthquake of 1886 left the house “badly injured” according to city records and in need of a thorough overhauling. The house suffered $3,750 worth of damage to the exterior walls and chimneys (the equivalent of about $100,000 today), William Means notes.

In 2000, the house underwent a major exterior restoration. According to the real estate agency, the foundation for the demolished carriage house and privy were excavated.

William Means Real Estate, launched 83 years ago, describes itself as one of the oldest real estate companies in Charleston.

Helen Lyles Geer became president and broker-in-charge in 1999. The company’s offices are on Broad Street in downtown Charleston and in Mount Pleasant. Visit www.charlestonrealestate.com.

Reach Jim Parker at 843-937-5542 or jparker@postandcourier.com.