Aiken Rhett House

Music Research at Aiken-Rhett House

Professor Candace Bailey, of North Carolina Central University, is currently writing a book entitled Charleston Belles Abroad: The Music Collections of Harriet Lowndes, Henrietta Aiken, and Louisa Rebecca McCord.

Harriet and Henrietta were mother and daughter, and their house (known as the Aiken-Rhett House) in Charleston is the best preserved urban antebellum residence of a plantation owner in the US.  In 1858 William and Harriet Aiken had an art gallery added to display various pieces that she had bought on at least six journeys to Europe between 1831 and 1858.  The music collection has not received much attention, but it is remarkable in its size and scope: Harriet had four binder’s volumes (three of which contain French romances found nowhere else in the US) and at least nine complete opera scores (piano/vocal) purchased in Brussels on her honeymoon in 1831; Henrietta owned over 200 pieces, including some of the same unusual French repertory, complete opera scores, four voice tutors and two piano tutors (all European prints).  Professor Bailey's research focuses on how and why their collection differs from contemporary American ones.  For further information on Aiken-Rhett House, see https://www.historiccharleston.org/visit/museums/aiken-rhett-house-museum.aspx.

Aiken Rhett House Double Drawing Room
Aiken Rhett House Double Drawing Room
Harriet Lowndes Aiken
Harriet Lowndes Aiken