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Timeless neoclassical triumph at King and Tradd


“Modernism is outrageously dated” according to architect Randolph Martz.

He would know better than most; he studied classical architecture at Rice University at a time when the subject was well out of vogue. Upon his arrival in Charleston, now over 40 years ago, he worked under Herbert DeCosta, Jr., a contractor with the mind and soul of a classical architect. Since striking out on his own in the mid-1980s, Martz has become a highly-sought-after neoclassical architect in his own right.

If modernism is dated, then look to Martz’s commission at 71 King Street for an archetype of truly timeless neoclassical design. Located in the heart of South of Broad, just two blocks north of White Point Garden, the modern home is so seamlessly stitched into the fabric of the neighborhood that a passerby might mistake it for a home centuries older. Yet it’s no slavish copy or Disney-fied reproduction; it is neoclassical living in our time, a masterwork as strong as any of Martz’s designs.

It’s also got the gift of space — three stories at just a little more than 5,500 square feet, to be exact. The 2003 infill project replaced a long-gone gas station from the 20th century; the lot afforded ample room for construction on a grand scale.

The result is a home that would have truly delighted in the 18th century (and no, not just for having air conditioning and indoor plumbing), but that is truly at home in our 21st century. For all its neoclassical bearing, one is awestruck by the light — an abundance is encouraged to pour in and saturate the house with windows graceful in form and generous in number. From the hardwood floors to the high ceilings, rich architectural detail can be found throughout the house.

Notably as the holiday season steadily sneaks our way, it is an ideal space for entertaining; from the classic entry stair hall to the ready-for-a-feast dining room to the 20-by-30 foot drawing room, 71 King is built to entertain on a lavish scale. Yet it is personable, family-friendly and welcoming; there is warmth and texture. The kitchen is beautifully proportioned, ready for seasonal feasting or making a simple dinner with the children in equal measure. A nurturing family room is nearby.

Those most nurturing and intimate of spaces, the bedrooms, are of peerless quality. The light-filled master suite is generously sized and complemented with a spa-quality bathroom complete with heated floors and a steam shower. Each of the other three bedrooms (one on the second floor, two on the third floor) includes its own ensuite bath. Storage is well thought for, as is privacy, with a handsome study. Access through the home is assisted with an elevator, a thoughtful inclusion for those in all ages and stages of life. Outside, there is a Robert Chesnut garden and oh-so-important off-street parking.

If you’re interested in making this Martz masterpiece your own personal manse, it is currently on offer through Diana Goff of Handsome Properties. Seventy-one King is a singular home — it is the melding of neoclassical style and substance with the sensibilities of modern living. As one of the vanishingly few infill projects of its scale in its neighborhood, this one-of-a-kind dwelling offers the prospective buyer Holy City living with no concessions and no compromises in luxury, quality and design excellence.

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