Robert Means House – 1207 Bay Street, Beaufort SC

Built in: 1800

s with many Beaufort houses, the construction and early history of this substantial dwelling is not well documented. Most often attributed to Robert Means (1774-1832), a prominent Beaufort merchant and planter, the property is also thought to have been owned by John Bull circa 1800. If the latter is true, it is possible Means acquired the site from Bull, as the house was in the hands of the Means family at time of Direct Tax sale in 1860s. George Gage, an Ohio native and later chief engineer of the Port Royal Railroad, purchased the house in 1872. Gage was also a prominent Republican who lost out to Robert Smalls in the selection of a new Collector of Customs in 1889. The house remained in Gage’s family until 1919, when it was sold to Major Edward Denby of Michigan. Denby was appointed Secretary of the Navy under President Warren G. Harding and was among the cabinet members accused in the Teapot Dome scandal of 1923. The well- proportioned, two-story verandah was added by Denby. The wide entrance hall has a drawing room on the right and a dining room on the left, both fully paneled. Each has Adam-style mantels and original molding. A mahogany stair rail with slender balusters leads to a landing and a sitting room, then continues to two bedrooms on the second floor. A Palladian window overlooks the garden in the rear.

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