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Charleston, South Carolina (pt 1)

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.

When we arrived at our airBnB house, we enjoyed a glass of wine on the patio.

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.

Horse-and-carriage rides everywhere!
Horse-and-carriage rides everywhere!

St Philip's church (est in 1681 - oldest religious congregation in South Carolina).  It doesn't sit quite straight due to the 1886 earthquake damage.
St Philip’s church (est in 1681 – oldest religious congregation in South Carolina).
It doesn’t sit quite straight due to the 1886 earthquake damage.


The “black” shutter are actually “Charleston Green”. After the Civil War, there wasn’t any money to spruce things up, so the north donated black paint. The locals didn’t want to use it, so they mixed 2 parts “Yankee” paint with 1 part “rebel” yellow paint, producing the signature dark green!


Old Planter's Inn
The old Old Planter’s Inn
Charleston gray bricks. Slaves made most of the bricks in this city. In some of them, you can see fingerprints. :(
Charleston gray bricks. Slaves made most of the bricks in this city. In some of them, you can see fingerprints. 🙁
Huguenot Church
The French Huguenot Church, a Gothic Revival church.
First theater in America (1736)

Interior of Dock Street Theatre:

Cobblestone streets!
Cobblestone streets!

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)

There's even a large pineapple fountain!
There’s even a large pineapple fountain!
The Pink House is the oldest building in Charleston and one of the oldest buildings in South Carolina. According to Wikipedia (and our tour guide), it was built between 1694 and 1712 of pinkish Bermuda stone. Apparently it was a brothel back in the day, with 12 women registered as living in the house during one census!

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.

The palmetto tree is a symbol of South Carolina (seen on the flag). During the Civil War, a fortress was constructed using these palmetto trees which helped to withstand cannons.

Those details!
The Charleston Exchange
The Charleston Exchange
Rainbow Row – a set of 13 houses, one of the most photographed parts of Charleston. History on Wikipedia.
More cobblestone streets!
More cobblestone streets!

After the 1886 earthquake, homes were “retrofiited” with long metal rods running the length of the building. They fixed the houses, and ensured they withstood further damage. Some earthquake rods were capped with rod covers (not seen here), but they’re visible in pretty much every home. The more rods present, the more damaged the house in 1886.


East Battery Road
East Battery Road
Charleston Single House

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:

This one look's like it has more of a modern look to it...
This one look’s like it has more of a modern look to it…
The side of a piazza.
The side of a piazza.

Continued here

Published in North American Roadtrip

One Comment

  1. Donald Swan

    Donald Swan

    Those are great photos. Your excellent commentary only added to it. Love Dad

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