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On February 28th this year, I posted an image of the Villa Margherita at 4 South Battery Street, including some history about the mansion and a local legend that I had personally heard was connected to it. I tried to do research to find specific information about the legend, but was not able to find anything at all, so I went ahead and mentioned it as a myth. This is the passage in question:
One myth surrounding the house that I have heard (though I have not been able to find attestation for it) centers around a male inhabitant that went to Paris with his butler. He supposedly returned as a female and was pregnant. This is just one of the many stories that circulate around the Holy City.
About a month or so ago, I discovered the truth and wanted to correct my error here. The individual was actually not associated with the Villa Margherita at all, but with a house in Ansonborough. She was born Gordon Langley Hall, and later became Dawn Langley Hall Simmons. She was actually born female but incorrectly sexed, and raised as a male. Her trip to Europe (where she was born) was not to have a sex change but to legally correct that original mistake. Interestingly, hers was the first legal interracial marriage in the state of South Carolina.
To hear a complete account of the story on an episode of This American Life, reported by Charleston’s own Jack Hitt, click here. In the episode, Hitt actually interviews Simmons herself.