City Directories and History: CAPERS-MOTTE HOUSE
Constructed circa 1750; altered early nine-teenth century; additional restorations 1971
“One of the largest pre-Revolutionary houses in the city, this dwelling has been the home of several notable South Carolinians. Both Richard Capers and Jordan Roche owned the property successively, and one of them was responsible for the mid- eighteenth-century construction on the site. Roche’s niece, Rebecca Brewton Motte, with her husband, the public treasurer Jacob Motte, leased the house from 1761 until the death of the latter in 1770. The structure is an unusually large form of the pre-Revolutionary double house with three full floors, excavated cellar, and spacious garrett.
In the early-1800s a subsequent owner closed the front door, converted the front rooms to a nineteenth-century double parlor, and added piazzas on the south elevation. Later the surviving outbuildings were renovated in the Gothic Revival style. In 1869 the widow Eliza Middleton Huger Smith (Mrs. William Mason Smith) purchased the property. A daughter of Sen. Daniel Elliott Huger of 34 Meeting Street, Mrs. Smith’s plantation house at Smithfield, in St. Bartholomew’s Parish south of the city, was burned by Sherman’s troops in 1865. Her son D. E. H. Smith and her granddaughter Alice Ravenel Huger Smith became Charleston’s first chroniclers of the city’s architecture, and Miss Smith is one of the most celebrated artists of the early-twentieth- century Charleston Renaissance. After her death in 1958, 69 Church Street passed out of the Smith family. A subsequent owner removed the piazzas and restored a conjectural central entrance door to the street elevation in 1971.”
Information from: The Buildings of Charleston – J.H. Poston for the Historic Charleston Foundation, 1997
Other sources of interest: Charleston Tax Payers of Charleston, SC in 1860-61, and the Dwelling Houses of Charleston by Alice R.H. Smith – 1917. The HCF may also have additional data at: Past Perfect and further research can be uncovered at: Charleston 1861 Census Schedule
A R&R Note: It may come of some interest to readers, the Motte family owned numerous land holdings in upstate S.C., including several in what is currently Cherokee Co., S.C. It can only be ascertained that many were provided Col. Motte for his service during the American Revolution.
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