An iconic Broad Street home sees new life after country music star and Charleston native Darius Rucker completes extensive interior renovations. But the site’s ongoing exterior upgrades have angered some of its new neighbors.
Some nearby residents are concerned that the size of a proposed pool and two-story pool house will encourage a party atmosphere and clash with the historic district’s architectural style.
The current planning also provides for a parking lot from the previous use of the large property as a church administration building.
“So many rooms are unnecessary and will only encourage large gatherings,” neighbor Carrie Agnew said in a written comment to the Charleston Board of Architectural Review.
“Perhaps that’s the intention of the current owners, who are all in different parts of the entertainment business,” she added.
Rucker purchased the home along with entrepreneur John McGrath in 2018 for the full list price of $6.25 million, according to the deed filed with the county.
McGrath founded JEM Restaurant Group in 1998. The company has grown to more than 100 Pizza Hut and Taco Bell franchise locations in South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Alabama over the past two and a half decades.
It is known as the Morton Waring House and is located at 119 Broad St. It was built between 1803 and 1807. The marble exterior was added over brick in the early 20th century, according to the Charleston Museum.
The main house is approximately 8,444 square feet. It is located opposite the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist and was formerly used as the church’s administrative building.
The architect behind the renovations and plans for the outdoor space, Neil Stevenson, pushed back the narrative that the property would be used as a “party house”.
“He’s got some fame, but he’s been here for two years,” Stevenson said of Rucker at an Aug. 11 audit committee meeting. “He’s a very private person … I don’t see this as a ‘Girls Gone Wild’ party house.”
Stevenson added that Rucker has lived elsewhere in Charleston without issue.
Since November 2021, the board has twice delayed plans for the proposed pool and pool house, citing historical inaccuracies and other concerns raised by neighbors about the scope of construction.
The original plan, proposed in November, was to move the driveway across the property to create two entrances on Broad Street and a two-story pool house with large pillars in front. Revised plans eliminated the second driveway entrance, added a trellis in front of the pool to ensure privacy between the pool and Broad Street, and refined the style of the pool house to better match the main house. The planned pool house is about 1,400 square meters.
Neighbors were still concerned that the size of the pool and pool house was untypical for the area.
“The planned pool house has more square meters than our house,” wrote neighbors Michael and Lara Commers in a joint comment to the BAR. “This doesn’t seem logical to classify as a pool house.”
Despite some opposition, Rucker’s work on the house was celebrated by other locals. The renovations were detailed in a television show on The Design Network called Rucker’s Reno.
The show is sponsored by the South Carolina Department of Tourism and features local restaurants, attractions and other businesses in each episode. Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg was seen last episode during a celebration of the interior work.
Rucker told Architectural Digest the project is about bringing back the pre-Civil War era — “something that was once a painful reminder of that history” and turning it into “a place that people who look like i can be really proud of. ”
When Stevenson presented updated pool and pool house plans on August 11, the audit committee voted to defer its approval. It seemed close to approving the plans if some changes in building materials and minor design changes can be made.
As a win for the neighbors, Stevenson agreed to build the pool house to 1½ stories instead of two. A half-story house is shorter because the second floor is under the sloping roof of the house.
Though he still has concerns about what the home will be used for, neighbor Larry Wetzel said he thinks the BAR’s recommendations are an improvement.
“I think we have a pretty good chance of getting something that we can all accept,” he said.
It’s unclear when the BAR will next review plans for the home.
Reach Emma Walen at 843-708-5837. Follow her on Twitter @_emma_whalen.