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Seems like every 'cottage' has a name here in Aiken. And a story of some sorts behind it. I had a hard time picking which historic home to enter. Many of these are on the register of historic homes.
Look at a few of my options:
This is a historic brick home on Berrie Road. An intersting fact about this home is that it was the former home of FDR's mistress, Lucy Page Mercer Rutherford. He visited Aiken quite often. There are a few historic homes in Aiken that have elevators. Ridgeley Hall is one of them. She was with him when he passed,and had to be whisked away very very quickly...or so the story goes. This is a beautiful house and has quite a story!
This house started as a simple home but was added onto over the years by the different owners. The original owner had it built and moved him and his family to the home from Charleston -to get away from the mosquitos and malaria. (this was 1890) His son died - the wife left - the man was distraught and he left the home. It went to tax sale and a local real estate agent, Eulalie Salley purchased the home - against her husbands wishes. She paid something like $2000 -(her husband was pissed) - and then when checking out the property - she opened the closed at the end of the upstairs hall and the man had packed away all his china and silver - a treasure trove so to speak. The house was sold many times over the years. Let's Pretend' recently was on the market and closed for $1,790,000. Quite an increase from when Eulalie purchased/sold it! Oh - and they did some filming here for a film a few years ago. 'Let's Pretend' was used as a setting in the movie "Who's Your Caddy?" Funny funny movie, lol. Well, this is a beautiful house with quite a story!
The house on Hayne.
I don' t know if this house has a name - I'm sure it does, but everyone knows it as the house with The Hope Diamond. Yes, the Hope Diamond was in Aiken. Owned by Evelyn Walsh McLean and she was from Washington DC. Ms. Walsh McLean saw the diamond at Cartier's in Paris - loved it, but didn't love the setting. She came back to The States, Cartier changed the setting and brought it to her to hang on to for the weekend, and she fell in love with it.
She purchased a home in Aiken so that she could be closer to her sons who were attending Aiken Preparatory School. She wore the diamond out and about, it was seen by many people. Eulalie Salley was the real estate queen back in the day - and she sold this property too. Ms Walsh McLean asked her if she wanted to see it - and of course she did. It was rolled up in one of her silk stockings in the top dresser drawer :) Harry Winston purchased her entire jewelry collection after her death and eventually gave the diamond to The Smithsonian for everyone to see :) That is an interesting house a with quite a story.
This is an awesome awesome home. Once owned by a well known polo family, and named after the elaborate railings and balcony that overlooks the grounds. (always something in bloom!!) I got the 'nickel tour' by the previous owner - what a fabulous fabulous home. She told me they had coats and coats of paint to scrape away and they ended up finding the most beautiful carved door mouldings. OMG - the hand carving was amazing. And hidden storage panels in the living rooms - where the 'winter owners' would stow away their knick knacks etc for the summer. The silver either went back with them on the train, or was locked in a safe, usually off the kitchen. (this house is surrounded by a large wall - and it is very difficult to get a good picture)
More Aiken 'cottages' and historic homes.
Sandhurst - Red Top - Kellsboro House - Walnutcroft - Banksia - Rest Period - Rond Point - Pine Grove - Rosemary Cottage....the list goes on and on.
All beautiful historic homes. Why all the names? Well, Aiken was a 'Winter Colony' made up of wealthy northerners. Their northern estates had names, and so did their Aiken Estates. Although the Aiken homes were considerable smaller in most circumstances and thus called 'cottages'.
This is how houseguests and visitors would find their way to the right home - by name. It was easy to remember the name of your friends/family estate instead of having to remember the actual address. You could just tell the carriage driver to take you to Red Top, and he knew exactly which cottage to go to.
Of course, 'cottage' is an understatement here. Some of these cottages are over 4000 square feet! One such cottage is called 'Joye Cottage'.(my choice!!)
Said to be one of the largest homes in the state with 60 rooms. Some cottage huh?! This is the old Whitney/Vanderbuilt Estate. Located on Easy Street. Really - here is the street sign:
Originally a small two room farmhouse built in the 1830's. A later owner, Sarah Joye, made it an Inn. In 1898 William Whitney(NY Banker - and served on Grover Clevelands cabinet as Secretary of The Navy) purchased the estate. Stanford White(NY Architect, several well known historic architectural landmarks, including the re-design of The White House and another Aiken cottage named Sandhurst) was involved in the redesign of this home - turning it into the 20,000 sq. ft wonder that it is. It was in full swing back in the day with socialite parties - The Vanderbuilts were frequent guests. I don't know what happened, but the house was vacant for a number of years and in disrepair when two men from NYC saw it in a real estate ad. Oh - these men - are pulitzer prize winning authors! Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith. From what I understand - they sold their NYC apartment and purchased Joye Cottage. (purchased for less than $500,000) A lot of blood, sweat and tears...not to mention cash, went into the repair and restoration. They wrote a book about their experience, it is a riot! On a street called Easy, in a cottage named Joye.
The renovations have long been completed and the home is beautiful once again. Mr. Naifeh and Mr. Smith have bequeathed the home to Julliard, and we will have annual concerts every spring beginning in 2009! This house has an artful past (back in the days of Whitney/Vanderbuilt several performances were held there - even Fred Astaire came to Aiken!) These men are giving back to the community, and giving such a generous gift to Julliard. It can be used as a retreat for future generations of Julliard students, faculty and alumni. With a weekly festival every Spring for the community. This is an amazing story of how this home was brought back to life, and will continue to give a gift of music and art for generations to come.
Joye Cottage encompasses an entire city block, and is surrounded by walls/ fences / hedges and other plantings. It is very hard to get a picture that does the property justice. Click this link for more pics and For more information on Joye Cottage
I would love to someday be able to tour this exquisite piece of Aiken history. I am hoping that Mr. Naifeh and Mr. Smith have a google alert set for their names, and they come across my blog and invite me in for tea! How cool would that be :)
Looking to own a piece of history? Let me help you find something in Aiken :)
Disclaimer: ActiveRain Corp. does not necessarily endorse the real estate agents, loan officers and brokers listed on this site. These real estate profiles, blogs and blog entries are provided here as a courtesy to our visitors to help them make an informed decision when buying or selling a house. ActiveRain Corp. takes no responsibility for the content in these profiles, that are written by the members of this community.