The South Flanker, today's House Museum, was originally built in 1755 as gentlemen's guest quarters and together with the North Flanker - a library and conservatory - completed Henry Middleton's overall grand design. It is the only surviving portion of the three-building residential complex that once stood overlooking the Ashley River. The flankers, along with the main house, were burned by Union troops in February, 1865, just two months before the end of the Civil War. The South Flanker was the least damaged of the three buildings and was restored to provide family living quarters. Repairs began in 1869 and included a new roof, Dutch gable ends and an entry hall leading from the Greensward. Thus strengthened, the South Flanker survived Charleston's Great Earthquake in 1886, that felled the gutted walls of the other buildings. By 1870 the Middletons returned to live again at Middleton Place and the South Flanker continued to serve subsequent generations until becoming a House Museum in 1975.
In 1771, Benjamin West painted a monumental portrait of Arthur Middleton (1742-1787), signer of the Declaration of Independence; his wife Mary Izard Middleton (1747-1814), and their infant son Henry (1770-1846) who was born in London during the young family's lengthy stay there.
Also in 1771, John Carter made eight silver candlesticks for Arthur Middleton, and Francis Butty and Nicholas Dumee crafted an exquisite silver epergne with the Middleton coat of arms engraved in each basket. Through the generosity of Middleton family descendants, these and many complementary objects have returned to Middleton Place and provide authenticity in illustrating the story of the four generations of Middletons for whom Middleton Place was home, from before the Revolution through the Civil War.
Guided tours of the House Museum introduce visitors to the men, women and children who made Middleton Place their home for over three centuries, including not only the Middleton family, but also the enslaved people and freedmen who served them. The story is interpreted through an extraordinary collection of original portraits, furniture, silver, china, documents and other objects that belonged to and were used by family members. Portraits by Benjamin West and Thomas Sully; fine Charleston and London-made silver; a pre-revolutionary breakfast table made by Thomas Elfe, Charleston's most celebrated cabinetmaker; a rare facsimile copy on silk of the Declaration of Independence, and first edition works by Mark Catesby, John James Audubon and other significant artists and authors reflect the interests, tastes and resources of the Middleton family.