History of the House
Our neighborhood was developed in the 1840’s and was called Harleston Village because it was developed on land owned by the Harleston family, one of Charleston’s original families; this land was also home to America’s first golf course: Harleston Green. Our house is circa early 1798 and one of the deeds shows that Nicholas Cobia, a cotton planter, purchased the property from Martin Hurlbert, a schoolmaster, in 1818 for $3,000.00.
The builder of the house was Henry Mockenfuss, a German immigrant and prolific builder in the area. He was born in 1766 and lived at 122 Wentworth Street. This house is very similar to ours, but turned 90-degrees, and was built before 1798. Because of these dates, it has been believed that our house was built before 1818. In summer of 2014, we learned from one of the living Cobia family members that the house was built in 1798. In 1837, the “house” was specifically mentioned in a will, hence the name.
In 1842 Nicholas’s wife, Ann, leased the house to Miss Margaret Cobia with the following negroes, “Mary” and “Nancy” with their future issue and increase.
Henry Cobia, Ann’s nephew, later inherited the house as well as Ann’s Negro woman “Fanny” and her six children and also “Boy Jim”. Henry was considered quite wealthy as he had $13,500 and a taxable dog (A “taxable” dog means it has a license)! Henry built the house next door at 128 Wentworth St.
During the early 1900’s, the house was owned by a former mayor of Charleston, William Schirmir, and was converted to a boarding house, doubling the size by adding the rear third story and abutting the carriage/kitchen house. During World War II, many of Charleston’s large houses were turned into apartments to house ship builders for the Navy Yard.
In 1956 the house was turned into a beauty shop on the first floor. It remained in this state until the building was purchased for 1837 Bed and Breakfast by Sherri Weaver and Richard Dunnin 1983. Sherri and Rick moved in to the house and began restoration work to turn it back in to its gracious state. Currently, Mohamad and Lynn Hakimianare the owners of 1837 Bed and Breakfast and Matt Passarello has been the manager since Memorial Day 2015.
Our house is an example of a Federal Style Charleston Single House, which means it is only one room wide. This was done for ventilation via plenty of windows allowing for a good cross breeze. Piazzas were placed on the South and West sides of houses to face the breezes. The third floor piazza was originally the roof of the second floor piazza.
The stucco covered house behind the main house is made of brick and is the original kitchen and slave quarters. Kitchen houses were always a separate building from the main house and always made of brick or masonry, mainly for fear of fire. The privy was located behind the building.
The formal parlor of the main house contains the red cypress cornice, wainscoting, and the black marble fireplace all of which are original. All of the cypress was stripped from a scaffold with heat gun, sanded and oiled with tung oil.
The medallion in the ceiling of the entry hall is original and took four days to clear the old paint away with a dental tool. Portions of the plaster cornice had been cut years ago to put in a partition and had to be replaced and rebuilt with plaster. The plaster is original and has been mixed with horsehair as a strengthening agent.
The wide plank floors in the main house and in the kitchen house are made of heart pine. They are amongst the widest in the city with one in the dining room measuring 14 inches wide.
As you walk downtown, take a look at the white plantation house at 120 Wentworth Street. It was also owned by the Cobia family and a window pane was found in the window with the words “Eliza Cobia 1798” etched into it.