Today we are touring a magnificent Italianate house located on Charleston’s illustrious South Battery with panoramic views of Charleston Harbor. The 9,000 square foot mansion was built in 1895 by Frederick Dinkelberg – the architect of the Flatiron Building in New York – for Cornelia “Daisy” Breaux Simonds, a flamboyant New Orleans beauty, and her husband Andrew Simonds Jr., a Charleston bank president.
“It was built as a wedding gift, but my guess is that Daisy was very involved. From everything we read, she was a very big personality,” said E.E. Fava, the Charleston architect whose firm, along with the home’s owners, Stephen and Mary Hammond, was pivotal in restoring the house. Sadly, Daisy was widowed in 1902, and not long after, she built an addition across the back and opened the house as a hotel named Villa Margherita. (Margherita means “daisy” in Italian.) The hotel operated into the 1950s, and hosted United States presidents, including Theodore Roosevelt, and some of the cast of Gone With the Wind. By 1953, Daisy had sold the house and it was returned to a single-family residence. After changing owners one more time, the house remained with the same family for several decades. “It obviously has a big presence in Charleston, and we loved the idea of bringing it back to its original condition and making it a family home,” said Mary.
Interior design by Carolyn Griffith and landscape design by Sheila Wertimer, Wertimer & Assoc. Photography by Emily Jenkins Followill, writing/captions by Amy Elbert, and production by Eleanor Roper for Traditional Home, October 2015.
“The level to which the Hammonds allowed us to go with restoration and renovation was so important,” Fava said. “This wasn’t just a Band-Aid. They wanted to make the house right.”
To see more, please visit Traditional Home. This home was originally featured in the October 2015 issue.