Mansard Magnificence

The Stevens-Lathers house on South Battery Street appears a good example of a common construction method in Charleston after the Civil War – but there is something different here. With fortunes lost and money scarce after the war, many Charlestonians could not afford to build anew in the ornate Victorian era styles that became so popular, so in a number of locations, Victorian details were added to the houses to give them the appearance of being new. The high-hipped Mansard roof was a very common and popular addition to older houses, and there are many in the city today on houses built long before the Victorian period. Such was not the case in the antebellum house purchased by Col. William Lathers in 1870. Col. Lathers had made a huge fortune in New York after the Civl War, and returned to his native South Carolina with the idea of restoring some of the former architectural grandeur. Certainly Lathers could have built a brand new mansion, but instead, preserved the 1840’s structure while giving it a dazzling multi-colored Victorian roof.

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