Over the last ten months, while we have been in the process of purchasing the Anchorage, we have learned a lot about the history of this great house. While we know the house is very old, there seems to be no absolute certainty as to when the Anchorage (initially referred to as the William Elliott House) was constructed.
We have seen accounts in the Beaufort Gazette that state construction began in 1750. However, the lot on which it was built was not granted until 1753 to Samuel Watson and Jean de Legaye. Other accounts state that based on architectural style the construction date might be closer to 1790. What we do know is that at some point the lot was purchased by the Elliott family, but from there things become unclear.
It is possible that Ralph Emms Elliott (1764-1806), a planter who owned Cedar Grove Plantation on Port Royal Island could have been the Elliott who built the house. By 1799 the lot was owned by an R. Elliott. However, Ralph Elliott was not a leading landowner so questions arise as to how he could have afforded such a grand house on the Beaufort water front. While some of the architectural style suggest this might be correct, the extensive renovation around 1900 makes it difficult to pin point the original style. Furthermore, the fact that tabby was used to build the house suggest and earlier date of construction.
There is another version of history that suggests that William Elliott I (1730-1778) built the house in 1770. William was Ralph’s father and a man of considerable means. He owned several plantations on Parris Island and could have easily afforded to build the mansion. The National Register of Historic Places sites 1770 as the date the house was built. If that is the case it would have had to be William Elliott I who was the original owner.
On the front porch of the Anchorage there is a plaque from the National Register that has the date of 1770. While nobody knows the exact date, we see it as a mid point between 1750 and 1790. Since there is no definitive date, and we have a plaque from the National Register, we are going to settle on 1770. Anchorage 1770, we like it!