Charles Cluskey was an antebellum architect and a prominent designer of Greek revival–style houses and public buildings in Augusta, Milledgeville, and Savannah. His period of principal activity was from 1830 to 1847.

Born in Ireland, Charles Blaney Cluskey arrived in 1827 in New York City, where he probably received training in the architectural firm of Town and Davis. He moved in 1829 to Savannah, where he is credited with the design of the Hermitage Plantation house (1830).

Georgia Health Sciences University
Georgia Health Sciences University

Courtesy of Georgia Health Sciences University

In his first major building, the Medical College of Georgia (later Georgia Health Sciences University) in Augusta (1834-37), Cluskey demonstrated his mastery of the Greek revival idiom. The monumental building is dominated by a Doric portico across the front and a central rotunda, which he repeated in later commissions. He designed the main building of Oglethorpe University (1837-40), which was then located in Baldwin County near Milledgeville, and the Governor’s Mansion (1837-39) in Milledgeville, the antebellum state capital. The Governor’s Mansion may be considered his masterpiece. Correct in its Greek proportions and details, the seventy-nine-foot (seven-bay front) by sixty-one-foot (five-bay sides) mansion features an Ionic portico and a two-story central rotunda with a coffered dome concealed within the roof.

In the 1840s and 1850s, Cluskey designed large Greek revival–style houses for Savannah’s wealthy elite, including the Champion-McAlpin-Fowlkes House (1844), the Sorrel-Weed House (1853), and the Philbrick-Eastman House (1853). He was appointed city surveyor of Savannah in 1845, and in 1847 he moved to Washington, D.C., where he submitted plans to renovate the Capitol, the White House, and the Patent Building, though few of his ideas were carried out. Cluskey returned to Georgia in 1869 to rebuild the St. Simons Island lighthouse and keeper’s residence, which had been damaged during the Civil War (1861-65). He contracted malaria and died in 1871, before the work was completed.

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Georgia Health Sciences University

Georgia Health Sciences University

The original building on the campus of Georgia Health Sciences University, completed in Augusta in 1837, was designed by the architect Charles B. Cluskey. The structure, Cluskey's first major building, is an excellent example of the Greek revival style.

Courtesy of Georgia Health Sciences University

Old Governor’s Mansion

Old Governor’s Mansion

A small crowd is gathered outside the Governor's Mansion in Milledgeville around 1880. The open brick fence is noteworthy. The state's governors resided here from 1838 to 1868.

Courtesy of Georgia Archives, Vanishing Georgia, #bal019.

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Old Governor’s Mansion, 1904

Old Governor’s Mansion, 1904

Photograph of the Old Governor's Mansion in Milledgeville, 1904. At this time, the structure served as the home for the president of Georgia Normal and Industrial College (later, Georgia College and State University).

Courtesy of Georgia Archives, Vanishing Georgia, #
bal169.

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Old Governor’s Mansion, 1941

Old Governor’s Mansion, 1941

Photograph of the Old Governor's Mansion in Milledgeville, circa 1941. Between 1891 and 1987, each president of Georgia College and State University has lived in the house.

Courtesy of Georgia Archives, Vanishing Georgia, #
bal061.

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Old Governor’s Mansion, 1960s

Old Governor’s Mansion, 1960s

Interior view of the Old Governor's Mansion in the early 1960s during restoration, which was completed in 1967. The Greek revival–style structure was designed by Charles Cluskeyand built in the late 1830s.

Courtesy of Georgia Archives, Vanishing Georgia, #
bal094.

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Historic St. Simons Island Lighthouse

Historic St. Simons Island Lighthouse

Historic photograph, circa 1914, of the St. Simons Island Lighthouse, which was designed by architect Charles Cluskey. Cluskey was hired to rebuild the lighthouse after it was damaged in the Civil War; he died before the project was completed.