For a small town where we only spent a little over ONE day, I somehow managed to snap 79 photos (I even had trouble narrowing it down to that many).
So Charleston will be two posts. Because it deserves it.
Charleston is unbelievably picturesque and so full of vibrant history, that it was impossible not to notice every building. To be able to understand the town, we decided we should take some sort of tour. I found Free Tours By Foot (!) so we signed up for the Historic Charleston tour as the Architecture Tour wasn’t offered on the day we were there, sadly.
I’ll write some fun facts I learned beneath the photos. Some snippets were taken from “Very Charleston: A Celebration of History, Culture, and Lowcountry Charm” by Diana Hollingsworth Gessler. Great book that our airBnB host had lying around. Amazon link here.
Interior of Dock Street Theatre:
The pineapples have a fun story: They’re a symbol of hospitality that adorn the entrance to houses. “Legend has it that sea captains sailing the Caribbean came home with exotic fruits. A captain would spear a pineapple on his fence post to let his friends know he was home safely and to please visit. He would then serve food and drink and tell tales of the high seas.” (Gessler)
We decided to go into the Old Slave Mart Museum after our tour and it was well worth the money (if you take a tour with Free Tours by Foot, you get a discount that ends up costing you $4/person to get in!). The museum was originally Ryan’s Mart, which was established in 1856 by Charleston sheriff Thomas Ryan after a citywide ban on public slave auctions made private markets necessary. So, slaves were sold privately. “A man in the prime of life could be worth up to $1,600 (equivalent to approximately $35,200 in today’s dollars) – sourced. This is also an interesting article on measuring slave worth. Anyways, the museum was a fascinating glimpse into the history of slaves.
I’m not sure why I’m so fascinated with Southern architecture, but I am. Here are some fun facts about the Charleston Single House.
- Only one-room wide with lots of windows. Charleston had very narrow lots and this allowed for cross-ventilation for days before A/C.
- The narrow end of the house faces the street.
- Two-story verandas (called piazzas) face south or west for breezes.
- Piazzas slope down for rain to run off.
- A false front door screens the piazza (and the true door is along the long side front porch).
More pictures of said home style: