78 E. Bay St.. — Original details, owners’ spiffs, harbor scenes elevate 18th century governor’s townhome

The four-story brick townhouse at 78 E. Bay St. was built in 1800 by former governor and general Arnoldus Vanderhorst (Leroy Burnell/postandcourier.com/5/6/2013).



The Post and Courier

Ever since a South Carolina statesman built an imposing brick townhome in 1800, scores of successive owners have put their stamp on the property.

Arnoldus Vanderhorst, a Revolutionary War general and the state’s governor 1794-96, framed the four-story house at 78 E. Bay St. along with flanking structures at 76 and 80 E. Bay.

The largest of the three at 5.248 square foot, 78 E. Bay St. is on the market for $3.6 million.

“This truly is one of the city’s most remarkable townhomes, and one of historical significance,” says Maggie Curtis, associate with Coldwell Banker United, Realtors and listing agent.

In a way, the residence’s history has evolved as each new owner fixed up or redid sections of the house.

“Everybody’s personalized it,” she says. As it stands today, the residence would be “a beautiful family home,” Curtis says.

The owners are Thomas Hanley and his wife Alex, who bought the historic townhome close to three years ago. Tom Hanley is a noted banking analyst who over the years worked for Salomon Brothers, First Boston and UBS Securities in New York.

The Hanleys’ contribution includes updating all the chandeliers and reworking casements and the fireplace. The interior was touched up including paintwork that gives the appearance of brick or stone walls.

“It was in pretty good shape. We just took it to another level,” he says.

The Buildings of Charleston author Jonathan Poston describes 78 E. Bay St. this way, “An excellent example of Neoclassical design with its central pedimented pavilion constructed with the Flemish-bonded brickwork and marble detailing, it bears a strong resemblance to London’s terrace architecture of the same period.”

Here are some of the notable craftsmen, artists and architects who have enlivened the property, according to Curtis.

• Renowned Charleston blacksmith and artisan Phillip Simmons crafted “beautiful ornate” iron work outside.

• Landscape architect Sheila Wertimer designed a walled garden with twin stepping stones and manicured lawn.

• Robert Shelton, acclaimed muralist, custom-painted walls throughout the house and hand painted a tropical-flavored mural in the dining room.

Spotlight features throughout the residence include ceilings as high as 15 feet and hand-carved moldings and mantels. An original handrail is on the stairs to the fourth floor.

A second floor grand suite showcases an oversized master bedroom with pine and oak floors and a sprawling bathroom including jetted tub. One of the bedrooms is believed to be the “counting room,” which may have held a secret compartment to store valuables, Curtis says.

Off the master suite is the breathtaking “harbor room,” a rectangular room on the back side of the second story offering sweeping views of Charleston Harbor, Curtis says. A television fits in a console, so the space could be set aside as a TV room.

The open, upscale kitchen sports stainless steel Viking stove, Bosch dishwasher, microwave, refrigerator, marble countertops and dozens of cabinets.

French doors open to the backyard gardens. “You can feel the harbor breeze while you relax in complete privacy amongst the guava, grapefruit, lemon, lime, orange, and one of Charleston’s oldest tea olive trees,” she says in her listing.

Out front, 78 E. Bay St. showcases arches contrasted from the brick and set over the front door and windows on either side. “During renovation, legend has it that the best pieces of wood were selected from all three (townhomes) to make this possible,” Curtis says.

A rare feature for a downtown house is off-street parking. The property contains a two-car garage in back and two parking spaces off of dead-end cobblestone Vanderhorst Wharf on the north side of the townhome building. There are also two storage units in the backyard.

Vanderhorst took three years, 1798-1800, to raise the townhomes. According to lore, they were built for his daughters.

In the 19th century, cotton bales were unloaded from the Charleston wharf and brought through the basement to an elevator for preparation. Brick steps connecting to the below-ground floor remain.

Says Curtis, the elegant brick townhome south of Broad Street is “THE location when you think of Charleston.”

The residence is just north of the Hazel Parker Playground entrance. Heading south, take East Bay Street past the Market area on to Broad Street. Continue a few streets and turn left on Vanderhorst Wharf. In the middle of the three townhomes is 78 E. Bay St.

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


Agent: Maggie Curtis

Office: Coldwell Banker United, Realtors

Phone: 843-693-8207

Philosophy: “I’m always striving to provide a superior level of professional real estate services. I put my 20-plus years of experience in the local real estate market and my global connections with Coldwell Banker United, Realtors to work for you.”