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Mansion results in lost bride for Charleston bachelor

Doorway. Note gold leaf trim and reflections in windows.
Doorway. Note gold leaf trim and reflections in windows.

In the annals of Charleston folklore, the formidable home at 21 King St., nicknamed O'Donnell's Folly, has a place among the many stories of lost love. But this broken heart story ended up producing a very large, outstanding house, if not a marriage.

"O'Donnell's Folly", 21 King St.
Photo by the author.

In 1852, Patrick O'Donnell, an Irish immigrant bachelor, was engaged to be married.  He wanted to build a fine home for his bride, so he demolished a previous house on this site, and began building a magnificent house with Italian Renaissance features and sweeping piazzas. Unfortunately, four years later, the work was still unfinished, his fiancée got tired of waiting, and she married someone else.  The would-be groom was left with a spacious home but no wife. He remained a bachelor, and occupied the home solo for the rest of his life.

O'Donnell's Folly remains one of the largest houses on lower King St.., is again empty and currently for sale. 

A few steps away is the Miles Brewton house, an equally-interesting house with a very different story.

If you enjoyed this neighborhood, you may also want to visit nearby lower Legare St.

The Charleston Visitor Center, 375 Meeting St. provides free city maps to locate these areas.