The grand scale in which Charleston whitesmith George Ross built this house is indicative of the prosperity enjoyed by local merchants and artisans in the boon years following the American Revolution. Similar to the more familiar blacksmith, whitesmiths worked with light-colored metals like silver and tin. But unlike blacksmiths, whitesmiths worked with cold metals, though they did use heat to shape the raw materials. Their wares generally included such popular items as cups, pitchers, forks and spoons, and candle holders.
The 18th century in Charleston ended on an optimistic note for men like George Ross, as the city quickly recovered after the British evacuated in 1782. The economy was booming, especially for talented artisans like George Ross, and Charleston's population growing. Indeed, most historians define the years between when this house was built in 1785 and 1820 as the pinnacle of Charleston's prominence in the new United States of America.
Built on Charleston's ubiqutous single house plan using bricks with a stucco overlay, Ross's grand house featured both Georgian and Federal architeictural elements. Its interior features fine dentil moldings, high ceilings, and deep window casements.
The Great Earthquake of 1886 destroyed the property's dependencies and caused significant damage to the walls of the main house as well. Repairs can be seen in the installation of earthquake rods along the front and south side of the house. A century later, Hurricane Hugo (1989) damaged the roof and parts of the original stucco. The door lanterns seen there today are antique replacements found in a Georgetown antique shop and date to the late 19th century.
Whitesmiths worked with lighter metals such as tin and silver to create everyday household items.