John Mark Verdier House Museum
Beaufort’s only house museum awaits your visit.
Visit downtown Beaufort’s historic John Mark Verdier House Museum for a step back in time. The impressive Federal-style mansion was built around 1804 by John Mark Verdier, a successful merchant and planter.
Verdier acquired significant wealth by trading indigo. He then purchased over 1,000 acres which he used to grow sea island cotton. The house on Bay Street was a highly visible statement of his wealth and status as a member of Beaufort’s planter class.
The John Mark Verdier House Museum
This museum is a wonderfully engaging attraction for many reasons. As the only historic planter’s house in the city open to the public, the 1804 estate presents an accurate portrait of how Beaufort’s wealthiest citizens lived during the height of the pre-Civil War Antebellum period when cotton was king and wealth was everything. The house has an impressive wide interior and four elaborate hand-carved fireplaces.
The house has seen some very important visitors. The Marquis de Lafayette stopped here on his Southern Tour in 1825. It was also used as Federal Headquarters by Union troops during the occupation of Beaufort during the Civil War. It was even home to the first telephone in Beaufort!
Luckily the Verdier House, or Lafayette House as it was called then, was protected and remained in family hands until the 1940s. A group of visionary citizens rallied to save the house from demolition. This group evolved into the Historic Beaufort Foundation. They worked diligently to register the house as a National Historic Landmark in 1971. They went on to open it as a museum in 1976.
The Verdier House Today
The Verdier House has withstood time and factors that erased many other grand buildings from the area. The home was spared flame during the Civil War and held fast during devastating hurricanes.
This is in part to innovative shipbuilding techniques that used beams and hand-cut horizontal boards. Visitors will also notice the house does not include a kitchen, bathrooms or closets. While the house was maintained by the family, it was never updated; keeping it true to the period of construction. The kitchens and privy would have been located outside. Clothing was stored in trunks and wardrobes.
The John Mark Verdier House Museum also houses three permanent exhibits highlighting Robert Smalls, the First African American to serve in the U.S. Congress 1875 – 1886, Civil War photos by Samuel Cooley, and The Beaufort Volunteer Artillery.
Docent-guided tours are available every hour on the ½ hour from 10:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. The museum is closed on Sundays and holidays. Visitors are invited to visit and admire the house and its exhibits. For more information visit the Historic Beaufort Foundation, or call the museum at 843-379-6335.
For more information on Beaufort attractions visit https://southcarolinalowcountry.com/beaufort-port-royal-area/, or day trip information https://southcarolinalowcountry.com/beaufort-day-trips/