Roper House, built in 1838 on the recently completed High Battery, commands a sweeping view of the Charleston, South Carolina harbor. The view looks past Fort Sumter, where the Civil War began, and on to the Atlantic Ocean beyond. Built for prominent cotton planter Robert William Roper, the house is an outstanding example of early 19th-century Greek Revival architecture in a city better known for its 18th-century Georgian-style buildings. Roper House is built on a monumental scale, with massive, two-story-high Ionic columns raised above a first floor, arched loggia pedestal base. Ceiling heights are 18 feet on the piano nobile, with tall windows extending to the floor. The piazza, opening off the double parlors, has the finest view in Charleston.
It is said that Mr. Roper intended his showcase to be the first residence seen by visitors approaching Charleston from the sea. The architect of this imposing house is undocumented, but the house reflects the influence of Karl Friedrich Reichert, a highly regarded German architect who was working in Charleston at the time on the new Charleston Hotel, the city’s largest and most fashionable hotel built in the Greek Revival style. Reichert had studied in Berlin under Karl Friedrich Schinkel, Germany’s preeminent classical architect of the early 19th-century. Another strong candidate is the Charleston-born architect Edward Brickell White. In 1841, he designed Charleston’s Greek Revival Market Hall on Meeting Street, and in 1843 completed a three-story brick mansion with a similar floorplan and design details for merchant William Gatewood.