Paul Hamilton House, "The Oaks" – 100 Laurens Street, Beaufort SC

Built in: 1855

This Italianate style house set in the shade of magnificent oaks is of frame construction on a brick foundation. The wide porches extend across the front of the house and continue around the sides to meet the projecting back rooms which have bay windows rising from the floor almost to the ceiling. The house has unusual carved mantels that extend around the sides of the chimneys. According to Direct Tax Case testimony, Colonel Paul Hamilton and his wife built this house “shortly” before the Civil War. Hamilton was the grandson of Paul Hamilton, Secretary of the Navy under President Madison. The family deserted the house in 1861 when Beaufort was occupied by Federal soldiers and it was used during the war as Union Hospital #1. Local tradition holds that when the house was auctioned in November 1865, Colonel Hamilton declared that he would bid up to a million dollars to save his home from becoming a school for Negroes. The Colonel obtained an option on the house with payment to be made within three days, this period allowing for a boat trip to Charleston to secure funds. On the second day, however, the Colonel’s young son ran home with the news that the house would be sold at sunset. Mr. George Holmes, a northern merchant, led other indignant citizens in hastily raising the money before sunset and the house was bought in the name of Colonel Hamilton.

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