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An 1860s House Becomes a Serene Escape For Charleston, SC Getaways

by Erin Austen Abbott

I have this thing with hotels. I love the design of hotels, staying in hotels — the works. I have even gone out of my way just to stay in a specific hotel. 86 Cannon in Charleston, SC is one of those places I would go out of my way to visit. Named for its street address, this three-story gem has a classic French vibe while still feeling modern and regal with an elevated Southern style. Not an easy feeling to master, to say the least.

Established in 1862 by Capt. Christian Baker Sigwald, 86 Cannon was built during the early days of the Civil War. The historic property was later owned by several Charlestonians, including James R. Cantwell, Adelaide Gibbes and Peter P. Poinsette, whose sister was Septima Poinsette Clark, the noted civil rights leader. The home remained in the Poinsette family from 1952 to 2015, when it was sold to Marion and Lori Hawkins. The Hawkinses turned to Betsy Berry of B. Berry Interiors to turn this home into the hotel it is today. “The minute I walked the property, I could see the elegance of the outcome of the renovation,” Betsy shares. “I was lucky to have kind and generous clients that not only trusted me, but encouraged my vision. Septima Poinsette Clark is said to have hosted Martin Luther King at this home on his trips to Charleston. This, to me, gave the property such presence and strength. A lot happened on this site.”

The former Poinsette House is now a fully restored luxury boutique inn located in the heart of downtown Charleston. Blending the original historic architecture, Lowcountry charm and sophisticated interiors, 86 Cannon aims to offer an immersive Charleston experience in the city’s vibrant Cannonborough/Elliotborough neighborhood. The property features five guest rooms, as well as common areas for relaxation, including two spacious open-air piazzas, a salon, café, and library. “I couldn’t sleep for days when pulling this concept together,” Betsy recalls. “The house itself is beautiful and I really wanted to do it justice as well as deliver Marion and Lori their dream of running a boutique luxury inn. When I presented my concept, they did not say a word. I thought, ‘they hate it.’ A full minute later (or it felt like it!), they simply said, “we love it — we don’t want to change one thing.’ That does not happen in this business. I cried tears of relief afterward. That began a great partnership in the beauty of 86 Cannon.”

Working with a home from the 1800s can often present problems. Scale has changed since building standards of that time, as Betsy learned on this project. She had to have the historic door frames removed to make way for the custom furniture on the third floor. “In older homes there was no need for a ‘great room,’ so we were dealing with smaller rooms that need the amenities of today’s world. The key to this is the scale of all the furniture. A lot [of] the furniture within the space is completely custom to feel as it should — made for the room,” Betsy shares. Her end goal was to provide an escape for guests, yet evoke all the charm and elegance of this beautiful city through the details of the space. I hope you enjoy this tour as much as we do. —Erin

Photography by Katie Charlotte Photography / @kcharlottephoto

Image above: Looking out over one of the two open-air piazzas, from one of the five guest rooms at 86 Cannon





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86 Cannon on Design*Sponge

A look at the two beautiful porches at 86 Cannon.

86 Cannon on Design*Sponge

86 Cannon’s handsome front door welcomes guests to stay.

86 Cannon on Design*Sponge

The second-floor porch, with seating from Janus et Cia, is divided into different seating areas to offer some quiet time among guests.

86 Cannon on Design*Sponge

86 Cannon interior designer, Betsy Berry of B. Berry Interiors.

86 Cannon on Design*Sponge

The foyer is stunning with hand painted flooring from Suzanne Allen Studio.

86 Cannon on Design*Sponge

The salon suggests the blue of the nearby ocean, while still presenting a classic look.

86 Cannon on Design*Sponge

A closer look at the blue, textured wall covering.

86 Cannon on Design*Sponge

The second-floor cafe is a serene spot to grab a bite to eat or a drink.

86 Cannon on Design*Sponge

The cafe welcomes guests for a morning breakfast and a nightly wine and cheese offering.

86 Cannon on Design*Sponge

One of the five guest suites in this historic home turned hotel. This particular room has a fireplace in the bathroom.

86 Cannon on Design*Sponge

A peek at the loft suite on the third floor, where you can get a rooftop view of the neighborhood.

86 Cannon on Design*Sponge

With exposed beams, the loft suite is a beautiful conversion of the attic. It is just across the hall from the lending library.

86 Cannon on Design*Sponge

Pulling from the same wall covering, the headboard feels seamless against the wall.

86 Cannon on Design*Sponge

The loft suite’s all-glass shower is a focal point of the room.

86 Cannon on Design*Sponge

With pine floors, exposed brick, and a marble sink, this bathroom is so beautiful.

86 Cannon on Design*Sponge

This guest room is elegant and features a fireplace. Brass details complement the warm color palette chosen for this room.

86 Cannon on Design*Sponge

A hand painted stenciled design covers the walls in this room.

86 Cannon on Design*Sponge

A closer look at the hand painted stenciled design on the walls.

86 Cannon on Design*Sponge

The third-floor lending library’s design utilizes an unexpected muted red, which works so well to create a cozy aesthetic.

86 Cannon on Design*Sponge

Similar to the adjacent loft suite, the library also has roofline views and exposed beams.


Exterior & Outdoor

Lamps – Serena & Lily
Tables and Chairs – Janus et Cie
Hanging lanterns – Carolina Lanterns


Custom Hand-painted Floor – Suzanne Allen Studio
Lantern – Urban Electric
Mirror – Fireside Antiques (Baton Rouge)
Stair runner – Fine rugs of Charleston
Sconces – Urban Electric

Living Room (Salon)

Custom Mirrors – R. Squared Hines Ltd.
Area rug – Fine Rugs of Charleston
Antique Commode – Fireside Antiques
Ceiling Fixture – Circa Lighting
Sconces – Circa Lighting
Lamps – Circa Lighting
Coffee Table – Arteriors
Side Tables – Serena & Lily 


Wall finish – Suzanne Allen Studio
Ceiling Fixture – Circa Lighting
Center Table – Belle Maison Francaise


Sconces – Circa Lighting


Guest rooms 1 & 3:

Nightstands – Chelsea Editions
Pivot Mirrors – Restoration Hardware
Consoles – Restoration Hardware
Ceiling Fixture – Circa Lighting
Area Rugs – Stark Carpet
Sconces – Circa Lighting

Guest rooms 2 & 4:

Lamps – Circa Lighting
Consoles – Arteriors
Nightstands – Chelsea editions
Antique Commode – Fritz Porter
Side Tables – Fritz Porter
Area Rugs – Stark
King beds – Restoration Hardware
Mirrors – Restoration Hardware

Guest room 5:

Mirror – Restoration Hardware
Table lamp – Antiques and Interiors Market on King


Table lamp – Serena & Lily 
Lamp – Ro Sham Beaux
Area Rug – Fine Rugs
Floor Lamp – Circa Lighting

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