John Mark Verdier
Between 1801 and 1805 John Mark Verdier (1759-1827), a second-generation French Huguenot, built his home in Beaufort’s main business district. A successful merchant representing the Charleston firm of Smith, DeSaussure & Daryl, Verdier acquired over 1,000 acres of land on Lady’s Island along the Coosaw River and was growing sea island cotton in the early decades of the 19th century.
The house which is located at 801 Bay Street in the heart of the downtown historic and commercial district is a premier representation of Beaufort’s residential architecture and was a highly visible statement of Verdier’s rise as a successful merchant and planter. Built with typical Beaufort Style architectural elements, this important Federal Period residence faces south, rests on a high tabby foundation, boasts a two-story pedimented portico and has a low-pitched hip roof.
Then Mayor Henry Chambers and US Senator Strom Thurmond joined long-time HBF Chairperson Lucy Hall and board members to celebrate the opening in 1975.
John Mark Verdier, Jr.
His oldest son John Mark Verdier, Jr. (1786 – 1857) a Princeton educated lawyer and his family lived in the home from the mid 1820’s until November 7, 1861.
The house remained in the Verdier family until the 1940s. The early twentieth century was particularly destructive for the house as it struggled with multiple usages including restaurant, telephone exchange, barber shop and even a tonsorial parlor.
In 1944, a group of visionary citizens rallied to “Save the Lafayette Building”, as it was then called, from demolition. That group of preservation minded citizens evolved into the Historic Beaufort Foundation in 1965. In 1976 after years of sensitive renovation, the house was opened as an historic house museum.