At the outset of any major renovation, addition, or restoration, the physical goal is to create a pleasing, functional space. But it’s the essence and character that brings a house to life, that intangible "something" that charms, welcomes, and envelops family and friends alike. Such is the Carriage House, which at one time was a true carriage house and stables for a larger property called Pine Grove, but is now a stand-alone residence in the heart of Aiken, South Carolina.
Developed by wealthy northerners in the early 1900s as a winter home to polo and foxhunting, the Aiken Winter Colony Historic District, also known locally as the Aiken Horse District, is the heart of the city. Unscathed by the Great Depression, the microcosm of Aiken flourished.
The Carriage House
Aiken, South Carolina
Baths: 4 full
Square Footage: 4,840
Lot : 2.0 to 4.99 acres
Asking Price: 2,098,000
Agent: Robyn Reilly
Built in this exclusive area in 1928, Pine Grove is now listed on the National Historic Register, and its stables were featured in the book, Great American Stables. At some point the Pine Grove carriage house, stables, and two acres were severed from the main estate, which is still a private residence. The carriage house was converted into a proper house, with the stables remaining intact
Several years ago, upon seeing the Carriage House property for sale, the current owners, who had been planning to build a new house in Aiken, immediately switched gears. Having moved ten times in fourteen years due to the owner’s business interests, they proceeded upon a labor of love that required careful restoration, invention, creativity, and refurbishing to make it a place they were happy to call a permanent home. Critical to their plan was the addition of a luxurious master bedroom and en suite, a well appointed kitchen, boot room, and laundry. They worked closely with Grant Larlee, well known for his historically sensitive renovations. As with any restoration in an historic district all changes had to maintain the architectural integrity and style of the property. Sadly, their need to move for business once again means this much improved property is for sale, and the owners would consider selling The Carriage House furnished.
While the exterior has maintained its Aiken charm, the interior is thoughtfully designed for entertaining, living, and quiet downtime. Some small quirks remind one of the Carriage House’s past—an iron hay rack in the great room, eyebrow windows above the dormers, reclaimed heart of pine floors—and some modern features discreetly add to the enjoyment and functionality—low-e glass, spacious foyer, elegant appliances, steam shower. A new garage with a FROG is especially useful. What’s a frog? Why, that’s the "Finished Room Over Garage"! On closer inspection, a wealth of careful details catch your eye, such as each cupola having a distinctly different weathervane.
The fully outfitted stable features four stalls for horses, feed room, tack room, laundry, wash stall, and two stalls used for storage. But the two remaining stalls—not for horses or their attendant needs—are truly unique features. One is an Irish Pub, the other a state-of-the-art wine "cellar." Once the walls had been reconstructed for their new purpose, the original stall boards were reinstalled in their original condition, with only a coat of clear varnish to freshen the finish. The pub boasts a serious air filtration system which permits cigars to be enjoyed, should one wish. The wine cellar is extremely sophisticated, and the owner jokes he appropriated these two stalls to prevent his wife from owning more than four horses (although any intrepid "horse collector" knows how to shift storage stalls into working stalls….).
The Palmetto Golf Club and the famous Hitchcock Woods for riding and walking are adjacent, and the owners have hosted players from overseas who come by invitation to play in the Palmetto Amateur, now in its thirty-seventh year. Nestled in the heart of Aiken’s famous sporting locales for polo, foxhunting, riding, golf, and entertaining, The Carriage House is a gem of a place.
The restoration and improvements over the past few years to the Carriage House combined to produce a house at once elegant and relaxed. Maintaining the architectural integrity of the property and buildings, while updating the infrastructure proved to be both positive and productive, allowing The Carriage House to takes its place among the fine houses and properties in the Aiken Winter Colony Historic District.
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