The Sword Gate House has served many different purposes since its construction in 1803. A private residence, a tannery, a prestigious girls’ school, and an inn account for its most notable uses. Many who pass by marvel at the privacy offered by the tall wall and famous “sword gates” that line the property. 32 Legare Street is truly one of Charleston’s most beautiful historic masterpieces.
Around the early 19th century, two waterfront merchants are believed to have begun construction on 32 Legare Street—what is known today as the Sword Gate House. In 1819, the property was sold to Andrew Talvande who converted the residence into an all-girls school. The school was operational for nearly 30 years and housed many notable names such as Mary Boykin Chesnut, the author of A Diary From Dixie, which became one of the most revealing civilian accounts of the South during the Civil War.
The property underwent a variety of improvements and additions over the years, and even survived one of the worst earthquakes to ever strike an American city. In 1930, the property was sold to Mrs. Jessie Lincoln Randolph (a granddaughter of President Abraham Lincoln) who lived in Washington, D.C. and planned to use the Sword Gate House as a seasonal residence.
The home was operated as an inn for over 40 years beginning in 1952. Henry T. Gaud was the owner at the time and made a variety of repairs to allow for public occupancy and use. While Gaud owned the property, he divided it into five parcels, making separate lots out of the front garden as well as dividing the house itself with a new interior wall. Ultimately, the property was combined once more into a single parcel in 1998. The current owners have utilized the property as a single-family residence as was originally intended. They went to amazing lengths to ensure the home was restored properly, consulting the best local preservationists, architects and designers along the way.
The Sword Gate House is currently listed for sale for $19,500,000 by Charleston-based luxury real estate firm, Handsome Properties, Inc. Located on one of the largest lots in Charleston’s historic district, the property sits on .87 acres and has 9 bedrooms, 13 full and 2 half baths. The main house combined with its outbuildings consists of approximately 17,142 square feet.
For more information about the listing or its history, contact the listing agent and broker-in-charge, Debbie Fisher with Handsome Properties at 843.727.6460.