A former South Carolina State Treasurer, who also was a star on the Bravo reality television series “Southern Charm,” has purchased The Balcony, a well-known Aiken Winter Colony estate.
“I’m going to be spending a lot of time there,” said Thomas Ravenel during a telephone interview Wednesday afternoon. “It’s going to be my primary residence. My children that I split custody with will continue to attend school in Charleston, necessitating that I keep a house down there and live in Charleston while they are in school on the weeks that I have them. Otherwise, I want to be there (at The Balcony) as much as possible.”
In a deal that closed May 13, Ravenel paid $1.8 million for The Balcony at 836 Whiskey Road.
The 10,552-square-foot main residence has exterior walls made of brick and veneer, according to Aiken County land records.
Also on the 5.85-acre property are a 1,134 square-foot house and stables.
“I play a lot of polo, and I just like the equestrian lifestyle,” said Ravenel of his decision to acquire a home in Aiken.
As for his choice of The Balcony specifically, “I love the house,” Ravenel said. “I showed it to my contractor and when I told him the Knox family used to own it, he said, ‘Well, it looks like it was built like Fort Knox.’ It’s very well built. I love the landscaping. I love the location. It’s right there in town, and we can just walk the horses to the polo fields without having to trailer them.”
Ravenel, who is a member of the Aiken Polo Club, became interested in The Balcony when he was driving by and noticed a For Sale sign.
“I drove in there and drove around,” Ravenel said. “Instead of calling the name on the sign, I called my friend, Willie Hartnett, who I play polo with. I know he’s a (real estate) broker, and I said, ‘I want to see the house.’ It was the only house I really looked at (since looking at some homes in Aiken about 10 years ago), and then I bought it.”
It took longer than Ravenel expected to finalize the agreement to purchase.
“We had a curveball thrown at us because of the coronavirus,” he said. “Then the lady who owned it (Frederica Davis) wanted to stay there while she was fox hunting.”
David Stinson of Keller Williams Realty – Aiken Partners was the listing agent.
“In general, it was a very pleasant sale,” Stinson said. “All the parties came to a happy agreement and all worked well with each other. It’s a magnificent home. He (Ravenel) is a polo player. I think he is going to be a good addition to Aiken.”
Renowned architect Julian Peabody designed The Balcony, which was built between World War I and World War II.
Originally, the residence was the winter home of Seymour H. Knox II, a Buffalo, New York, banker, philanthropist and polo player. His family founded the F.W. Woolworth Company.
Knox died in 1990 at the age of 92.
The Balcony has had various other owners over the years.
“Restoring and redecorating old houses is kind of a hobby for me,” Ravenel said. “It’s something that I enjoy doing.”
And changes at The Balcony are planned.
“I’ve got an interior designer involved, and I want to do a lot of different things to it,” Ravenel said. “My construction manager hired a general contractor who is from Aiken. We’re looking forward to really transforming the home into a wonderful showplace. It’s been kept in great shape by the previous owners, but I just want to put my own individual stamp on it, and that will take a while. I probably won’t move in there for at least 120 days.”
Painting is likely to be part of the process.
“I’ll probably change the roof or renovate it,” Ravenel said. “There is a lot of slate that needs to be replaced. There are old radiators that I think are there just as reminders of days gone by. I want to remove them because they serve no purpose other than aesthetics, and I don’t think they are attractive.”
Ravenel, 57, was elected State Treasurer in 2006, but resigned in 2007.
He was an unsuccessful U.S. Senate candidate in 2004 and 2014.
Ravenel founded Ravenel Development Corp. in 1992.
His father, Arthur Ravenel Jr., served in the U.S. House of Representatives, S.C. State Senate and S.C. House of Representatives.