every family of importance maintained houses in both city and country.
Seasonally, the rice aristocracy would flee the malarial marshes of
their plantations and retreat to their town houses. Here the climate
conditioned the art of building in special ways. The first floors of of
these mansions were raised several feet above the level of the ground to
counter the penetrating dampness, encouraging the ironmaster to forge
curving stair rails and elaborate gates. Some stood sideways to the
street with high-ceilinged, spacious rooms opening on porches and
piazzas that faced gardens, in the manner of houses of the West Indies,
whence had come many of the city’s residents, and so designed to
mitigate the sultriness of the atmosphere and to catch every trace of a
refreshing breeze. Here, wrote, La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt, “persons vie
with one another, not who shall have the finest, but who the coolest
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