Seabrook Mansion in South Carolina Combines History With Southern Charm

How many houses can say they hosted both the Revolutionary War hero Marquis de Lafayette and the Civil War's Union Army? Those are just two of the more colorful events in the history of Seabrook, now on the market for $8.3 million.

Local legend holds that White House architect James Hoban also designed Seabrook, which was built in 1810 for local businessman William Seabrook.

The current owners bought the 350-acre property in 1998 and have spent $2 million completely modernizing the home, says listing agent Chip Hall. Updates include new electrical throughout, new plumbing, a new roof, and even such touches as painting over obscene Union soldier graffiti on walls and doors. The home itself measures 8,235 square feet and has five bedrooms, four bathrooms, and two half-baths.

Located on Edisto Island, about an hour from Charleston, the home survived the Civil War because the Union Army decided to use it as a local headquarters, rather than burn it to the ground as it did with other plantation houses, Hall says. Still visible on large wooden doors throughout the house are the numbers Union officers wrote to designate their offices.

The home's first floor includes the restored living room, dining kitchen, a large family room, a massive entry hall with floating staircase, and a traditional Southern colonnaded front, Hall says.

Income opportunities also abound. The property includes three cottages that can be rented out to vacationers for roughly $40,000 in annual fees, Hall estimates. The property has two docks and can accommodate deep-water vessels, Hall says. Local lore has it that a U.S. Navy destroyer once sailed by, he adds.

Seabrook was an entrepreneur who found a way to create fertilizer from the plentiful local mud known as pluff mud. He went on to invest in steamships when they first started appearing on America's waterways.

And when a steamboat ran aground nearby, Seabrook invited its most famous passenger, Lafayette, to spend the weekend at his plantation. While there, the visiting dignitary was asked to christen a baby born during his stay. She became Carolina Lafayette Seabrook. A painting of her is now in the home and will stay with it when it's sold.

"There's just a natural, raw beauty now," Hall says of the grounds surrounding the home. Anyone interested in a slice of American history, or simply looking for a genteel Southern lifestyle, will find it an attractive buy.