Thomas Fuller House, "Tabby Manse" – 1211 Bay Street, Beaufort SC

"Tabby Manse"

Built in: 1786

Thomas Fuller House, or “Tabby Manse,” is considered to be one of the finest early houses in Beaufort. It contains eight perfectly proportioned rooms, including three completely paneled in heart-pine and cypress. It has excellent Adam-style mantels, a superbly crafted stairway, a fine Palladian window in the rear elevation and a paneled second-floor drawing room. The hand hewn major structural timbers measuring twelve inches thick, even in the attic, span the entire forty five foot depth of the house, and are secured by large wooden pegs. The Fuller House is a highly significant example of the use of tabby, an early local building material composed of oyster shells and lime mortar, for a large scale residence. Constructed as the residence of Thomas Fuller, a prominent local planter, local tradition suggests the house was built in 1786 as a wedding present for his bride Elizabeth Middleton. The house was purchased at the Direct Tax sale of 1864 by Rev. Mansfield French, a Methodist minister sponsored by the American Missionary Association of New York City. In the 1870s, Almira Morill Onthank converted the house into a guest house and it was operated for more than a century by Onthank and her descendants. Francis Griswold wrote his renowned Civil War novel, A Sea Island Lady, while staying in the house. Architecturally, Tabby Manse follows the model of the Elizabeth Barnwell Gough House, 705 Washington Street, which was adapted from the design of the Miles Brewton House in Charleston.

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