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.
The house remained in the family of Verdier’s heirs into the twentieth century. The house eventually ceased to be used as a single family residence, as apartments and businesses gradually took over its interiors. By 1942, the house had declined to such an extent that it was condemned. Shortly thereafter, an individual began to acquire partial interest in the property from the Verdier heirs. With rumors of the imminent replacement of the house by a gas station, a group of farsighted Beaufort citizens rallied to the defense of the house. Beaufort’s first major community historic preservation project succeed when the Committee to Save the Lafayette Building acquired the house in 1946. The Committee subsequently rehabilitated the house for use as rental space and later gave the property to its successor organization, the Historic Beaufort Foundation, in 1967. The Foundation restored the house in 1976 and now operates it as a headquarters and an interpretive center illustrating the architectural heritage of the city of Beaufort.
Hours of Operation:
11 AM – 4 PM Admission FeeCall in advance for holiday closingsand group tour reservations.
Beaufort, South Carolina
Historic Beaufort Foundation
Beaufort, South Carolina 29901
Phone: 843-524-6334 Fax: 843-524-6240