1401 Middle Street: Mugdock Castle on Sullivans Island
“Strive for the luxury of expert simplicity reflective of the comfort and utility of a modern day beach castle. The choice of finishings, furniture, and other accouterments must reflect a time when understated elegance was still an art form. Incorporate no superfluous objects. Instead, with each addition or alteration, aim for a soulful harmony such that the whole is made ever greater than the sum of its parts. Achieve value through thoughtful selection, rather than accumulation.”
–The Mugdock Decree
A romantic and whimsical fortified home on the quiet, western end of Sullivan’s Island, Mugdock Castle is an iconic Charleston landmark steeped in history and charm. Comprised of the Gothic-style Winter Hall (c. 1891) and the Romanesque Summer Hall (c. 2009), the two buildings are joined by a central stair tower to form a genuine area’s Lowcountry beach castle. Among the most solidly constructed buildings of its time, this home truly captures the luxury of expert simplicity, reflective of the comfort and utility of an authentic, modern day beach castle.
An in-depth history of the home, along with detailed write-ups on its some of its features, can be found below. To view more photos of the home, please click here!
History of Mudock
The history of Mugdock Castle is an interesting tale and one that is rich in Charleston history. Nestled on the western end of Sullivans Island, it is located adjacent to Fort Moultrie—one of Charleston’s most historic forts which played integral roles in both the American Revolution and the Civil War. Together with Forts Moultrie and Sumter, Mugdock Castle guards the entrance to Charleston Harbor—the most historic North American port of the Atlantic Coast.
The original structure, now known as Winter Hall, was first referenced in historic documents dating back to the late 19th century. The property was purchased by the Episcopal Church and construction on the new chapel began in 1891 under the supervision of designer W. Deveaux of New York and builder Robert McCarrel. It replaced Grace Church, consecrated in 1819, but destroyed in 1863 during the Union’s 545-day bombardment of Sullivans Island and Charleston. The cornerstone of the new chapel was laid on September 12, 1891 and the first service was held on July 10, 1892. On September 12, 1985, Ellison Capers, the seventh Bishop of South Carolina, wrote in his journal: “Consecrated this day to the worship of Almighty God a beautiful stone edifice erected on Sullivan’s Island to be known as ‘The Chapel of the Holy Cross.’”
In a jingoistic fervor following its war with Spain in 1898, the federal government began enlarging Fort Moultrie. Covetous of the chapel, the Army moved against Holy Cross to acquire the property in 1905 for a paltry sum of $6,000 ($145,000 in 2010 dollars). The keys were turned over to the government in 1907 and the building was used as a Post Chapel until 1947. The chapel was deconsecrated in 1972 and converted to a private home.
In 2002, Charleston resident Vince Graham contracted to purchase the property. He planned to move the building to I’On, a neighborhood in Mount Pleasant, and restore it as an Episcopal Church. The Sullivans Island Town Council took steps to block the move and his priest at Holy Cross persuaded him to stand down, keeping the structure where it had stood for centuries.
Mindful of its strategic location and the history of foreign and domestic aggression in the area, Graham worked to restore and fortify the building as Mugdock Castle—named for a Graham stronghold built in the 14th century north of Glasgow, Scotland. A Romanesque addition was added in 2009. The men and women responsible for the restoration of the Winter Hall and construction of the Summer Hall are skilled artisans hailing throughout Europe and the Americas. Passion for their craft is reflected in the heart and soul thrown into the homes details, which provide Mugdock its endearing character. As the most significant fortification of Clan Graham west of Scotland, Mugdock now serves as a testament to perseverance and a bastion of peace and hospitality.
- 7 bedrooms
- 6.5 baths
- 4,950 square feet of interior space
- 1,600 square feet of covered outdoor space
- 1,180 square feet of rooftop terrace
- 0.32 acre lot
Winter Hall (c. 1891)
Upon entering the front door, you will be enveloped in a sense of understated grandeur. Craftsmanship abounds. A slate roof is supported by hammer-truss beams over the Winter Hall’s twenty-seven foot ceilings. Two-foot think granite walls, black cypress hinged windows and an intricate cast stone fireplace create an authentic castle feel. Journey up the mahogany spiral staircase, wrought by a local master carpenter, placing you in a loft overlooking the kitchen, dining hall, library, living room, and “throne room”–more commonly known as a garderobe or full bath. A small bed chamber is tucked into the North Tower with a staircase leading to a private terrace–offering 360 degree views of Fort Sumter, Fort Moultrie and downtown Charleston.
Summer Hall (c. 2009)
The Romanesque Summer Hall was added in 2009. Built with thick, reinforced concrete walls and massive cypress timbers, this keep provides a complimenting modern addition to the home’s historic Winter Hall. Six of the castle’s seven bedrooms are located in the Summer Hall. All have been thoughtfully designed with built-in beds, wardrobes, and elegantly appointed baths. The Summer Hall’s breathtaking main room overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. With sixteen foot ceilings and carved limestone fireplace, it is flooded with warm light from heavy French doors, custom-made of old-growth white pine. South facing, wrap-around porches are found on the second and third floors. The two master suites enjoy direct access to these porches and each has an outdoor shower.
The expansive rooftop terrace offers panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean, Intracoastal Waterway, and Charleston Harbor. The castle grounds include intimate courtyards designed to complement the interior spaces. The Summer Hall’s undercroft provides covered outdoor entertaining space. It overlooks a gracious southern lawn and grove of producing olive trees.