Aiken-Rhett House Museum, Mazyck-Wraggorough: Route to (re)settlement Exhibition Venue



Built by shipping merchant John Robbinson in 1820, the Aiken-Rhett property was purchased by The Aikens in 1827 and remained in the family for 142 years. The site is unique on the Charleston Peninsula as it remains suspended almost exactly as it was left by the family with their furnishings and collections adorning the house and the backlot is flanked by both original outbuildings which housed 14 slaves prior to emancipation. Without extensive modern updates and historical restorations, the interpretation of this property is not rigidly defined prompting visitors to rely on their visceral experience. The site is a testament to the lifestyle of the Aiken and Rhett families and the enslaved African Americans who lived in this antebellum property.

Programming at the Aiken-Rhett House Museum is an extension of the Historic Charleston Foundation’s mission to preserve and protect the architectural, historical and cultural Character of Charleston and to educate the public about the city’s history and the benefits derived from preservation.

Participating artists will examine identity as it is defined through socio-economic positioning and cultural signifiers that divide classes

Site Views

Interior of Aiken Rhett House, the double parlor with portrait of Harriet Lowndes Aiken (center) by George Whiting Flagg

Exterior of slave quarters and old kitchen on Aiken Rhett property

Aiken Rhett House Slave Quarters: Ceiling of first floor

Aiken Rhett House Slave Quarters: Stove on first floor

Aiken Rhett House Slave Quarters: Staircase to second

Interior of slave quarters warming kitchen on the first floor of the Aiken Rhett property

American Street and House of the Future, Eastside Charleston: Community Partner & Route to (re)settlement Exhibition Venue

For Artist David Hammons, the street presents the best place to exhibit art. Also for this longtime resident of Harlem, it was the ideal studio space. Working in Charleston in the spring of 1991, Hammons made a two-part work, each influenced and in part created by the residents of the area. With these works, he sought to give something back to the community, contributing works with a long-lasting presence.

Hammons created American Street as part of Spoleto Festival USA’s Places with a Past exhibition; the installation is now a permanent public park. On the corner of America and Reid streets, Hammons replaced a billboard image advertising cigarettes with a photograph he took of local African American children when he first visited the East-Side neighborhood. In the photo, the children stand together looking up in the same direction, their concentrated gaze taking on a new meaning of hopeful determination when Hammons placed a modified American Flag in their projected line of vision. Hammons 40-foot “flagpole of dignity” flies a flag on which the patriotic red, white, and blue have been replaced with red, black and green of the Pan-African flag, a symbol of Black pride and global unity between peoples of African origin.

The house on the opposite corner was given its general structure by the artist, who wanted to make an attraction: the narrowest single house in Charleston is only one door——rather than one room——wide. To complete this project, Hammons asked for community input and found his dost enthusiastic spokesman in contractor Albert Alston, who built the structure and served as a historical consultant. Alston envisioned the house as a learning center for construction methods and materials and suggested drawing attention to its features by adding labels to the building. Moreover, Alston saw this house/sculpture as a means of fostering respect for the area’s old houses and pride in Charleston’s rich history. Hammond saw the potential for that past to become a living legacy and named his contribution House of the Future.

*Taken from Places with a Past David Hammons’ plaque

Installation Views

David Hammons, African-American Flag. 1990. dyed cotton, edition of 5

David Hammons, American Street, 1991

David Hammons, American Street (Detail), 1991

David Hammons & Albert Alston, House of the Future, (Front View)

David Hammons & Albert Alston, House of the Future, (Side View)

David Hammons & Albert Alston, House of the Future, (Detail)