“My own piece of Charleston heaven.” That’s how actor Rachel McAdams described the charming kitchen house where she secreted herself away after grueling days filming The Notebook in 2004. Perhaps not as grandiose or famous as many of its South of Broad neighbors, the three-house property at 17 and 17½ Water St. exudes a creative energy that has, throughout its century-and-ahalf history, attracted artists and artisans, musicians and designers, and its fair share of actors and filmmakers. All have added to the property’s mystique.
Built circa 1867 by Tobias Scott, a former slave who bought his freedom through his earnings as a fan maker [read his story in the Summer 2018 issue of this magazine], the original house pulsed with the activity of his wife, Christiana (also a former slave), and their seven children. It’s believed that Scott would retreat to the kitchen house, set behind the main house, to craft his much sought-after fans from the feathers of owls, herons, spoonbills, peacocks and other colorful birds.
Clockwise from top left: An arched doorway in the main house frames original heart pine floors; the homeowner, an interior designer, preserved the house’s architectural integrity and added her own creative touches; the kitchen house was once the workshop of former slave Tobias Scott, a sought-after fan maker for Charleston society
The Scotts remained in their Water Street home for more than 30 years, after which the property passed through a number of other creative owners, each adding his or her own special chapter to its storied annals. About 50 years ago, the property was spilt in two: the front house at 17 Water St., and the kitchen house and carriage house at 17½ Water St.
When Atlanta-based Allyson and Doug Kirkpatrick Clark began house hunting in Charleston in 2014, real estate agent Lisa Patterson offered to show the couple both properties, which just happened to be for sale. “I thought they would like one or the other,” remembers Patterson, whose true love is selling historical homes in downtown Charleston. “After seeing them, they wanted both properties. … One sale was contingent upon the other. It took some doing, but we were able to reunite the two parcels after nearly half a century.”
The creative energy on the property didn’t escape Allyson Kirkpatrick Clark, a talented interior decorator who finds joy in creative problem solving. She jumped in with both feet to tackle the restoration and redesign of the Water Street property’s 3,328 square feet, which includes five bedrooms, four full and two half baths, three kitchens, as well as formal gardens and outdoor living spaces.
Clockwise from left: An outdoor hideaway offers solace and privacy; the dining room is ablaze with color; the charming carriage house is reminiscent of a Parisian pied-à-terre.
According to Patterson, the front house needed a tremendous amount of work. “They installed roofs, new electrical, new plumbing, new floors where needed, and so on,” says Patterson. “In the main house, they put in a modern kitchen that maximizes the workspace for Doug, who loves to cook. In the process, Allyson incorporated the kitchen’s original shiplap ceiling.
“Allyson’s taste is impeccable,” continues Patterson. “She has a great collection of artwork and antiques, and she skillfully mixed those with a flourish of contemporary pieces. That’s not an easy thing to do, but she makes it work beautifully.”
Patterson says that the house’s historical details are what make it special. The Kirkpatrick Clark design, she says, is distinctive. However, the house’s “amazing bones” can support a variety of design visions.
“The little carriage house in the back was a shell of a building when the Kirkpatrick Clarks bought the property,” says Patterson. “Now it’s the most charming little pied-à-terre, something you’d see in Paris. It’s just one of the many features that makes this property so special.”
The three-home property at 17 and 17½ Water St. is currently on the market. “It’s a perfect location in the prestigious South of Broad neighborhood, with tremendous rental opportunities for the owner,” concludes Patterson. “I’m excited to see what the next chapter of this amazing
Patra Taylor is a full-time freelance writer living in Mount Pleasant.