John Mark Verdier House – 801 Bay Street, Beaufort SC

Built in: 1801

This prominent Federal style mansion was built circa 1801 by by John Mark Verdier 1 (1759-1827), a local merchant and planter, on land which before the American Revolution belonged to another merchant, Francis Stuart. Verdier’s fortunes reflected the changing economics of Beaufort’s merchant class, rising to great stature and wealth before the Revolution as a merchant trading in indigo. As indigo markets disappeared with the war, Verdier’s fortunes declined and his financial troubles were made worse by heavy speculation in forfeited lands. After a short stay in a Charleston debtors’ prison, Verdier returned to Beaufort and caught the next wave of prosperity: sea island cotton. Verdier was able to eclipse his earlier success, reestablishing his mercantile interests and acquiring extensive plantation holdings and owning 216 slaves by 1810.

Unfortunately his fortunes would be short-lived, and by the 1820s Verdier had moved to Charleston. The inventory of his estate taken after his death show few possessions and give indication of his reduced circumstances and his gradual transfer of assets to his children in the later years of his life. The property is thought to have passed to his son John Mark Verdier II an Ed his wife Caroline McKee. While no evidence of their acquisition has been located, Caroline purchased the site from the Commissioners for Direct Tax in 1866, John Mark II having died in 1857.

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