NORTH CHARLESTON — The newly renovated Admiral’s House, sitting atop a hill and in the shade of massive oak trees, is arguably the most prestigious structure on the old Charleston Naval Base.
No wonder the building, now transformed into a wedding and events venue, is seeing early popularity.
Before the end of construction, the Admiral’s House had booked three ceremonies. Next year’s calendar is filling up with events slotted for almost every weekend.
“We’re really thrilled,” said Lisa Reynolds, event coordinator with the city.
The house, also known as Quarters A, has undergone a $4.5 million renovation. The refurbished building is now officially open for day and night events.
The redevelopment was funded by the Charleston Naval Complex Redevelopment Authority for use by the city as an event space.
A focal point for revitalization, the historic buildings on the old base have seen roughly $9 million invested by the RDA toward renovation.
Several dozen officials, staff and RDA members held a ribbon-cutting June 24 at the Admiral’s House to celebrate its opening. There, Mayor Keith Summey touted the building as a representation of North Charleston’s effort to improve people’s quality of life.
The public is invited to tour the historic homes in the Officers’ Housing District on the former Navy base 10 a.m. — 2 p.m. on June 26. The structures include the Admiral’s House, Eternal Father of the Sea Chapel, and Gatekeeper’s Inn at Quarters F.
“North Charleston may be a young city, but our history is long and fascinating,” Summey said. “I invite the entire community to join us and experience the history that was locked behind base gates for nearly 100 years.”
The expansive, 7,000-square-foot admiral’s estate was constructed for the commandant of the Navy base in 1905. Over the next 90 years, the residence was home to the highest-ranking officer at the base. The building had been closed since the federal complex ceased operation in 1996, deteriorating over the years.
“This is something that sat idle for so long,” Summey said. “That maintenance wasn’t being done.”
The building’s history makes the house a unique wedding venue when compared with other sites around the the Lowcountry, such as plantations, Reynolds said. Plantation homes in the Charleston area have come under intense scrutiny due to the properties’ ties to slavery.
“This has a totally different history to it,” Reynolds said of the Admiral’s House.
Walking inside the three-story, Neoclassical-style building is like stepping into a time capsule.
Furniture, artwork and artifacts in the five-bedroom house recall the Navy days. Chairs display an admiral’s seal and engraved military cannons, a hand-painted mural depicts wildlife around water, a separate painting illustrates the landscape before development, and a few dining room windows offer a spectacular view of the Cooper River once used by Navy ships.
Reynolds’ favorite space in the facility is “Peach’s Room,” named after one of the admiral’s daughters. That top-floor bedroom includes a luxury bathroom and maintains a view of the front lawn’s large oaks.
The home also includes a former attic that’s been transformed into a game room, ideal for folks to talk and play chess.
“This really is an asset for North Charleston,” said Councilman Bob King.
Restoring the century-old structure was no easy feat, as there were sagging floors and significant structural issues. But now, the once-threatened facility has been revitalized and equipped with upgrades that include a commercial kitchen, elevator and sprinkler system.
The Admiral’s House won’t be readily accessible to the general public. The facility will be rented for private use for fees of $3,500 for a day or $5,000 for a night event, which includes an overnight stay. Individual rooms are not available for booking.
Reach Rickey Dennis at 937-4886. Follow him on Twitter @RCDJunior.