Historic I-House

The house is located within the Historic District of Beaufort, and is listed as a contributing resource to Beaufort’s registration as a historic district. The house was originally built around 1790 was owned by the Rhodes family prior to the civil war. Oral history recounts that Clara Barton stayed in the house when she came to Beaufort to provide relief after the 1893 Hurricane.

The house has been extensively reworked over the years, as shown in our progression drawing. Our clients wanted to honor the history of the house, while updating it for the 21st century. As the case in many historic houses the floor plan was very choppy and there was little storage. The clients also desired a garage building, which we found to have previously existed, according to a 1924 Sanborn map. The project received glowing approval from the historic review board, who were pleased to see the house updated in an historically appropriate manner.


Contemporary Lifestyle

The clients desired a home in the downtown district of Beaufort where they could walk and bike downtown and feel connected to the community. They looked for houses for several years before falling in love with the character and history of the Thomas Rhodes house. Although the house needed significant modernization, they knew there was potential for a very unique and beautiful house.

In the 20th Century, the staircase was relocated from the center hall to the front room. In our renovation, we moved the staircase back to the center and opened the font room to the kitchen. The original heart pine wainscoting was exposed. The North elevation has had a number of additions over the years. We enclosed the porch to provide space for a powder room, pantry and bar. Existing shutters were replaced with impact-rated hurricane shutters.


Sustainable Intent

Sustainability was achieved in this project by promoting the reuse of an existing home, rather than building a new one. This house has been occupied for nearly 230 years, and a modern upgrade means that it can continue to be occupied for generations to come. The original house was built prior to the advent of air conditioning, which means that it is sited and designed to employ passive cooling techniques. The design is a form that is common to Beaufort, called the “I-house.” The original floor plan was a one room wide house with south facing porches to maximize cross-ventilation and protect the interior from harsh summer sun.

The HVAC system and insulation were replaced, as well, to promote energy efficiency.

Exterior, historic renovation project
Dining room to kitchen, Beaufort SC renovation

This is historic preservation done right! The fine design of the original house shines through and nothing in the plan adjustments distracts. They only make it a much more livable house.

Jury Chair, Cheryl Morgan, FAIA

Historic Renovation Beaufort South Carolina