Diplomatic Reception Rooms, U.S. Department of State

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Web Property of the U.S. Department of State


Object Details

ca. 1795-1800
United States: South Carolina: Charleston
North American
wood; Honduran mahogany; pine
Overall: 115 1/2 in x 76 in x 13 1/2 in; 293.37 cm x 193.04 cm x 34.29 cm
This bookcase can be traced through direct family descent to William Mason Smith of Charleston (1788-1838). Born Charlestown, South Carolina in 1788 to an Episcopal minister, Rev. Robert Smith (d. 1801) and Anna Maria Tilghman of Wye, Maryland. Rev. Robert Smith, also a Revolutionary patriot, was made Bishop of South Carolina in 1795 and acted as the first President, as well as founding, a school for boys, later the College of Charleston. William Mason Smith married Susanna Pringle of Charleston (d. 1846), and together they lived on Smithfield plantation on the Combahee River, some 30 miles west of Charlestown, and in a townhouse, 26 Meeting Street, in Charlestown proper. According to family records, William Mason Smith died without children and the breakfront and Meeting Street home were passed to a nephew, William Mason Smith II. Around 1865, after having sought refuge from the bombardment of Charleston by the Union troops (lasting from 1863-1865), the widow of William Mason Smith II returned to her battered home, 34 Meeting Street. She found the breakfront had been severely damaged by a canon ball that shot through the two lower doors and through the back of the piece thereby shattering all of the glass. The mahogany used to replace the doors is said to have come from and old bedstead and the glass was replaced in solid panes without having repaired the original "diamond shaped glasses". The widow moved the breakfront with her to her new residence at 69 Church Street in Charleston. The home was sold in 1966 by the family after the death of Alice Smith, the donor's aunt, and the breakfront was then moved to 26 Tradd Street. Information provided by correspondence from the donor located in the donor and object files and from: Biographical Sketches of Graduates of Yale College (Vole 6) (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1912), p. 228.
Credit Line
Gift of Mrs. William S. Gaud
The Diplomatic Reception Rooms, U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C.
Accession Number