Is the Third Time a Charm for the Sword Gate House?

Sword Gates

Sword Gates

The allure of the Sword Gate house is real. A massive, magnificent mystery behind a towering brick wall, seen only through hand-wrought iron gates featuring two brawny swords. Who owns it? Only a few are privy – otherwise the rest of us are left wondering who in the world is Bear Gate Realty Limited – the name listed in the tax records. This Sword Gate mansion has just come on the market, listed for an easy $19,500,000 – the second highest price ever asked for a home in Downtown Charleston.

But this is not the first time this home has been offered for sale – it’s actually the third in the past decade with no sale yet recorded. So will this third time be a charm for the Sword Gate house?  Located at 32 Legare Street (pronounced Luh-gree), in the most exclusive area of historic Charleston South of Broad, the home has 9 bedrooms, 13 bathrooms, and 17, 142 square feet on a .87 acre private lot.  It was built in 1803, in the Federal style, during the time in which Charleston was the wealthiest city in our new hard-won nation.  Below is a bird’s eye view of this estate and for interior photos you can follow this Zillow link.

View of Sword Gate property

View of Sword Gate property


Handsome Properties, the current listing company, presents the Sword Gate house beautifully, in all its visual and historic glory, and they were able to gain coverage of it in Forbes Magazine. The article gives you great insight into the home’s storied past. (Though as an aside, I beg you please ignore the author’s comments about ‘Peninsular Charleston’ which he says means ‘the heart of the old, rich town’.  Actually, ‘Peninsular Charleston’ includes the area all the way up just past Mount Pleasant Street, about 3 miles from the Sword Gate house, and hosts quite a diversity of housing and people – not necessarily the ‘old’ and the ‘rich’.)

As usual, I digress.

So, here’s a listing history of the property – first offered right as the Great Recession settled in, so no wonder it languished on the market.

  • July 2009 – Offered by Disher, Hamrick and Myers for $23,000,000 (the highest price ever asked for a home in Charleston).  I actually wrote a post about this home then!
  • November 2011 – The home was withdrawn from the market.
  • December 2011 – The home was listed again for $23,000,000 with Daniel Ravenel Real Estate.  To note: in Charleston, December 2011 was generally regarded as the bottom of real estate prices, with the slow recovery beginning shortly thereafter.
  • December 2012 – Price change to $19,995,000
  • May 2013 – Price change to $18,800,000
  • December 2013 – The home was again withdrawn from the market.

But the times, they have changed in Charleston since 2009, 2011, and even 2013. Our economy is vibrant, and this town is a rising star in the eyes of well-heeled national and international buyers. Those seeking a private, historic, trophy estate in the heart of historic Charleston would do well to consider the Sword Gate house. The third time should be a charm!

For more history on this spectacular property, visit the National Historic Register

Preservation Society Plaque

Preservation Society Plaque


Speaking of trophy properties, two others currently on the market include:

2 Concord Street for $8,850,000 – located right on the Charleston Harbor, a former Navy degaussing station with a main house, guest house and a deep water dock with a 100 foot floater. Perfect for a yacht owner. Listed with William Means Real Estate. I wrote about this property in 2011 when it first came on the market.

60 Montagu Street for $12,950,000 – a nearly 1.5 acre estate- also built during the Federal period like the Sword Gate house, with multiple buildings and a pool in Harleston Village. The owner, a delightful gentlemen and great neighbor, lovingly restored this property with extraordinary attention to detail. I had the opportunity to see the home when we went through the Master Preservationist Program together in 2011, and I can say with confidence, it is nothing short of mind blowing.  Listed with Handsome Properties.


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