No one knows southern hospitality quite like Patricia Altschul.
Only ET was invited inside the Southern Charm star’s Charleston, South Carolina, mansion for an exclusive tour of the property, which is actually an historic landmark.
“It was built in 1853 by a wealthy cotton planter, for his fourth wife,” Patricia notes. “So, I felt a kinship immediately!”
Patricia, who’s had three husbands of her own, purchased the mansion (known as the Isaac Jenkins Mikell house) eight years ago for a little under $5 million. The estate boasts 10 bedrooms across 9,500 square feet, all of which Patricia restored.
“It took me two years of constant renovation,” she admits. “There were 15 men here every day for about a year and a half, and then the decorator, Mario Buatta, came down [from Manhattan] and we decorated it.”
Patricia says the home represents “the best of Greek revival architecture,” and lived many lives before she moved in. For 30 years, the property served as a public library. At one point, it was also turned into a series of apartments. Still, the socialite says she doesn’t believe the home to be haunted -- at least not by scary ghosts.
“I think it’s haunted by fun-loving poltergeists!” she jokes. “Only the good kind of ghosts, and they’re constantly losing my glasses… and my keys!”
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The tour starts in Patricia’s morning room, which she explains as the room where the lady of the house would come and write her correspondence in the 19th century. For Patricia, the room serves the same modern-day function. She takes phone calls in the sunlit room, which is decorated in pale greens and whites.
The space contains one of three first floor bars, this one she calls “the refresher bar.” There’s also the after-dinner bar in her library and the full bar in her butler’s pantry, plus a bar cart upstairs.
The morning room is also home to some of Patricia’s prized art collection. The home’s walls are covered in millions of dollars worth of one-of-a-kind treasures. In the morning room, Patricia keeps a portrait of Queen Victoria’s dogs done by Landseer.
“I'm a collector,” she explains. “I've studied art history, I was a professor of art history. So, I get all of the catalogues from all over the world. I see what's available. I go to dealers. So, it's fun. For example, I collect French clocks, mostly from the 18th and early 19th century, so you'll see all kinds of strange things in this house.”
The Landseer painting is just one of many museum-worthy pieces.
“The paintings have all been exhibited in the Louvre, in the Metropolitan Museum, in Milan and Japan,” Patricia shares. “So, I have paintings that go on exhibit, then I have other paintings in storage that I replace them.”
Lining the wall of her grand staircase, you’ll find a collection of silhouettes Patricia has collected over the years, including, she says, the only one President George Washington sat for in his lifetime. Patricia confesses it would be hard to find a bargain item in the house.
Upstairs, the star takes us into the “famous Patricia Altschul bedroom,” as seen on the Bravo hit. Sadly, there’s no massive collection of Patricia’s signature caftans on display. The home is so old that there aren’t large enough closets to contain all her clothes.
However, Patricia did treat us to a first look at her own caftan collection, Patricia’s Couture, which she wore on the tour. The custom-made caftan features her dog Chauncey’s face. Fans can order their own caftans, featuring their pets’ faces, on Patricia’s just-launched website.
Next door is one of her guest rooms, which features more unique collectibles, including a needlepoint once owned by Jackie Kennedy and displayed in the White House.
Moving back downstairs and outside, guests will find “one of Charleston’s famous piazzas.”
“Not a porch,” Patricia corrects. “‘Porch’ is too de classe. We call it the piazza … It's like being in an Italian villa. I always feel like I'm in Verona.”
The piazza overlooks Patricia’s gardens, which fans of Southern Charm will remember as the scene of the infamous flamingo party from season three. That’s where a Speedo-clad Shep Rose dove into the pool, and Cameran Eubanks fell into Patricia’s bushes.
“It's a formal boxwood garden,” Patricia says. “[There’s] an antique Italian fountain that I have from my house in Long Island, quite old. Probably early 19th century.”
The backyard is surrounded by giant magnolia trees, with Meyer lemon trees peppered throughout. When asked if Patricia collects the lemons for cocktails, she says, “Well, of course! What a silly question.”
Naturally, we had to end the tour in Patricia’s living room with one of her signature martinis, made by her butler, Michael. Stay tuned to ETonline for more from our visit to Patricia’s house, including how to make those martinis.
Southern Charm premieres Monday night at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Bravo.