Aiken Rhett House: Charleston’s Historic Gem with a Haunted Twist

  • By: Gareth Popovic
  • Date: 17 January 2024
  • Time to read: 6 min.


Step back in time and explore the grandeur of the Aiken-Rhett House, a captivating historic landmark nestled in the heart of Charleston. Immerse yourself in the rich history and architectural splendor of this preserved antebellum residence.

Join us as we delve into the past, uncover paranormal encounters, appreciate the cultural significance, and discover the enduring legacy of the Aiken-Rhett House.


The Aiken Rhett House, located in Charleston, South Carolina, is a historic mansion that offers a glimpse into the antebellum lifestyle of the city’s wealthy elite. The house was originally built in the early 19th century, around 1820, for John Robinson, a prominent merchant.

In 1827, the property was purchased by William Aiken Sr., who served as the governor of South Carolina from 1844 to 1846. Aiken made substantial expansions and renovations to the house, transforming it into the elegant mansion that stands today.

In 1858, William Aiken Jr., son of William Aiken Sr., inherited the house and continued to make significant additions, including the construction of the impressive two-story drawing room. The Aiken family owned the house until 1975 when it was sold to the Charleston Museum, which now operates the property as a historic house museum.

The Aiken Rhett House is a stunning example of Greek Revival and Federal-style architecture, featuring grand piazzas, ornate ironwork, and stately columns. The mansion’s interior boasts intricate plasterwork, hand-carved woodwork, and elegant furnishings, offering visitors a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of Charleston’s elite during the 19th century.

Aiken Rhett House
Aiken Rhett House

The house has been preserved remarkably well, retaining much of its original charm and character. As a National Historic Landmark and an integral part of Charleston’s history, the Aiken Rhett House continues to serve as a window into the city’s past, inviting visitors to step back in time and experience the grandeur of an era long gone.

Haunting Legends and Supernatural Phenomena

Visitors to the Aiken-Rhett House have reported a series of paranormal encounters, adding to its mystique and captivating allure.

The ethereal atmosphere of the house has given rise to numerous spine-tingling experiences, leaving visitors both curious and awestruck. Here are some documented paranormal events that have taken place within the hallowed halls of the Aiken-Rhett House:

  1. The Ghostly Apparition: Witnesses have described seeing a spectral figure dressed in period clothing, believed to be the apparition of Emily Rhett herself. It is said that her restless spirit wanders the house, creating an eerie presence that leaves an indelible impression on those who encounter it.
  2. The Phantom Footsteps: Many have reported hearing unexplained footsteps echoing through the corridors of the house when no one else is present. The sound of distinct footfalls has been experienced in various rooms, leaving visitors with a sense of otherworldly energy permeating the space.
  3. The Haunted Mirrors: Some visitors have reported seeing strange reflections in the mirrors of the Aiken-Rhett House. Distorted images, shadowy figures, and even fleeting glimpses of faces have been witnessed, adding to the sense of unease and intrigue.

One documented paranormal event at the Aiken House occurred on a moonlit evening in October 2015. A group of visitors on a guided tour reported a chilling encounter with a mysterious apparition in the grand ballroom.

As their guide shared stories of the house’s history, one visitor noticed a translucent figure standing near the grand piano. The figure appeared to be a woman dressed in a flowing white gown, reminiscent of the fashion from the antebellum period. Startled, the visitors watched as the apparition slowly dissipated into thin air, leaving them in awe and disbelief.

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Main Slave House

Art Gallery - Aiken Rhett House
Art Gallery – Aiken Rhett House

In the shadows of the Aiken-Rhett House, a haunting post-Civil War document reveals the names of 14 slaves who once lived and toiled within its walls. Among them were Tom and Ann Greggs, with their son, Henry, and Dorcas and Sambo Richardson, alongside their children, Charles, Rachel, Victoria, Elizabeth, and Julia. Charles Jackson, Anthony Barnwell, and two skilled carpenters, Will and Jacob, also contributed to the family’s legacy.

Though slavery’s chains have been broken, many of these souls remained in Charleston even after Emancipation. Jacob Gaillard and Henry Greggs, bound by their past, continued to live and work at the Aiken-Rhett House until their final days in 1896 and 1908.

Their stories echo through time, reminding all who visit of the painful history and the resilience of those who once called this place home. As you step into the historic halls, ponder the lives of those enslaved and the echoes of their untold tales that linger within the walls of the Aiken-Rhett House.

Mysterious Lonely Woman & Haunting Quarters

Step into the chilling legend of the Aiken-Rhett House, where ghostly encounters abound. Witness the apparition of a lonely woman roaming the rooms, her presence accompanied by haunting footsteps echoing through time.

Spectral sightings are not uncommon, especially in the slave quarters, where the past lingers in the air. As you explore the decaying rooms, imagine the lives of those who once dwelled within these haunted walls.

Feel the eerie chill that grips you when alone in these rooms, compelling you to seek the company of others. The Aiken-Rhett House holds secrets of the past, where history and spirits intertwine, leaving you with an unforgettable and spine-tingling experience. Dare to brave this haunted mansion, where the echoes of time reveal timeless tales of the unseen realm.

These legends, whether based in fact or born from the imagination, have contributed to the enduring allure of the Rhett House. Visitors who venture into its rooms and gardens often find themselves immersed in the rich tapestry of history and the lingering echoes of the past. As one of Charleston’s most treasured historic sites, the place continues to captivate and intrigue all who cross its threshold.

Popular Culture and Media Coverage

Entrance - Aiken Rhett House
Entrance – Aiken Rhett House

The Aiken-Rhett House in Charleston, South Carolina, is an evocative piece of Antebellum history. Its well-preserved architecture and compelling past have made it a noteworthy site in pop culture and media.

The House has served as a setting in several film and television productions due to its historical significance and architectural charm. An example is the TV show “Southern Charm,” where the location highlighted the rich history of Charleston.

In literature, the House is extensively described in the book “The Fall of the House of Dixie: The Civil War and the Social Revolution That Transformed the South” by Bruce Levine. This compelling narrative uses the house as a symbol of the old South, shedding light on its complex history.

Another book that explores the Rhett House is “Historic Houses of South Carolina” by Harriette Kershaw Leiding. This piece of art provides a detailed account of the Aiken-Rhett House’s architecture, its historical significance, and the lives of its former residents.

Today, the Aiken-Rhett House continues to attract visitors interested in experiencing a piece of Southern history. Its portrayal in pop culture and media underscores its enduring allure and significance in understanding the past.


The Aiken Rhett House stands as a testament to Charleston’s rich heritage and offers a unique opportunity to step back in time. From its well-preserved architecture to the paranormal encounters reported within its walls, the house continues to intrigue and inspire.

As visitors explore its rooms and gardens, they are transported to a bygone era, experiencing the grandeur and complexities of antebellum life. The Rhett House is a cultural treasure that invites us to reflect on the past, appreciate its significance, and gain a deeper understanding of Charleston’s history.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Aiken Rhett House

Q1: Where is the Aiken Rhett House located?

It is located at 48 Elizabeth St, Charleston, SC 29403.

Q2: Can visitors tour the Aiken Rhett House?

Yes, visitors can take guided tours of the Aiken-Rhett House to explore its rich history and learn about its architectural and cultural significance.

Q3: Are there any reported ghost stories or paranormal encounters at the Rhett House?

Yes, there have been reports of paranormal encounters at the Aiken-Rhett House, including footsteps, voices, and sightings of apparitions. These stories contribute to the house’s reputation as a haunted location.

Q4: How long does a tour of the Rhett House typically last?

Tours of the Aiken Rhett House typically last around one hour, allowing visitors to fully explore and appreciate the historic property.

Q5: Are there any restrictions on photography during the tour?

Yes, photography is allowed but with restrictions. Flash photography is not permitted inside the house to preserve the delicate historic artifacts and furnishings.

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