Suave Side-hall

The side-hall single house design is fairly common in historic #Charleston, such as this 1850’s Italianate structure on Legare Street. The floor plan was a departure from the older single-house design, which featured a house with a single room width facing the street, bisected with a middle hall parallel to the street that separated rooms front and back on each floor. The problem with this kind of house is that the rooms are small and compartmentalized, which was not suit able for fancy entertaining by the 1820’s, when Charleston had become a very sociable city. The side-hall design took the hallway out of the middle of the house and put it on the side, perpendicular to the street, so that interior rooms would be interconnected by large archways, making the main floor potentially one big ballroom from the from of the house to the back. I often take my tour past our former residence on Legare Street and tell stories of what it was like growing up there. <img.src=”Charleston Architecture” alt=”Side-hall single house

Tiffany Tradition

There are a number of stained-glass windows in historic #Charleston that were created by the famous Tiffany Glass Company of New York. Louis Comfort Tiffany made his fame by revolutionizing the images made in opalescent glass, using such techniques as copper-foil soldered rims, fracturing glass to create creative detail, and even adding chemicals such as arsenic into the molten glass to enhance color. This window pictured is The Anunciation, which was done circa 1898, and shows similar iridescent features to the the famous lamps he started making about that time. <img.src=”Charleston Architecture ” alt=”Tiffany Windows”

Citadel Sentinel

The South Carolina Military Academy established in #Charlesotn in 1842 is know as The Citadel, and the current campus created in 1922 along the Ashley River is dominated by the fortress-like facades that give it the distinctive name. Citadel cadets have gone on to serve in both the Confederate and United States armies,  as well the U.S. Navy, the Marine Corps and the Air Force. With an annual enrollment of less than 2500 cadets, The Citadel nevertheless has a remarkable service record in United States military history, and unlike West Point and Annapolis, Citadel graduates are not automatically given a commission when graduating, and only serve voluntarily by enlisting or joining an ROTC unit.  The cadets have never wavered in their sense of patriotic duty, and in  World War II,  The Citadel had the highest percentage of graduates in military service of any  American college other than the service academies.  <img.src=”Charleston Landmarks” alt=”The Citadel

Paying Pews

The boxed pews, such as these made of red cedar in old St. Michael’s Church, were a common method of raising money for congregations in historic #Charleston. The boxes were considered the property of those families who leased them, and the lease money would pay for church maintenance and salaries. There are records throughout Charleston’s history of advertisements for pew leases, and in many cases, sub-leases. The concept lasted until the 20th century, when pews were made available to the public in houses of worship all over town, and the collection plate or basket became the method of gathering cash. An old joke among some parishioners at places such as St. Michael’s is that the most sought-after pews were the boxes behind the pulpit, making it easier to go unnoticed if dozing off during a sermon. <img.src=”Charleston Curiosities” alt=”Boxed Pews”

Picturesque Piazzas

Many of the historic houses in #Charleston are graced with full-length side porches known by the Italian name piazza. The meaning and the pronunciation are different in Charleston however. We say “pee AH zuh”, while the Italians pronounce it  “pee AHTSA”. It literally is translated as “square” referring to the open inner courtyards of public buildings in historic Italy  that were bordered by covered breezeways, creating what the Italians called a  “salotto a cielo aperto” or “open air living room”. Not lost in translation is the purpose of the covered area, which was to shade and cool the breezes that swept through them and into windows. This became an effective method for enduring the heat of Charleston in the days before electricity, and on most streets in the historic areas of the city, the piazza is still as notable feature.<img.src=”Charleston Architecture” alt=”The Piazza”

Gorgeous Greens

The Village of Harleston was created asa suburb of #Charleston in the 1770’s, the name coming from the large tract of high land that bordered the Ashley River, known as Harleston Green. A handful of homes were erected in the late 18th century by planters who wanted to escape the summer sizzle, but the open breezy meadows were largely used for recreation by a large contingent of Scottish merchant immigrants, who brought with them the new game called golf. Whacking away with odd-shaped clubs with names like the niblick, they swatted balls made of sheep and goat skin into appointed holes. And thus the first golf association in America was formed by 1786 as the Harleston Green Golf Club. Today, the green spaces in what’s now called Harleston Village are as beckoning, but the only thing that swings these days are the gates to the garden areas that replaced former fairway. <img.src=”Charleston Curiosities” alt=”Harleston Green”

Fearsome Fortress

The imposing District Jail looms over Magazine Street in downtown #Charleston  with its fortress-like crenelations that give it a forbidding facade. First opened in 1802 as a much smaller structure, it was extensively remodeled in the 1850’s to stand four stories high as a stark example of punishments that was harsh in those days. It was severely damaged by the  1886 earthquake, and restored at the current height of three stories. Among the famous and infamous held here were murderer Lavinia Fisher, hanged in 1822 and supposedly still haunts the jail today; Denmark Vesey, whose attempted slave uprising also earned him a place  on the gallows; as well as hundreds of Federal soldiers, who were briefly kept here as captives during the Civil War. The building was never used as a city jail, which is commonly told to visitors, but as a district and then county jail, and closed in 1939. <img.src=”Charleston Landmarks” alt=”Old District Jail

Riverside Reminder

The circa 1800 Gaillard-Bennett House on Montagu Street is several blocks from the Ashley River today, but when it was built, it faced the water. The #Charleston peninsula was much different then, and on its western edge grand houses were built by prominent citizens to take advantage of the prevailing breezes that came over the Ashley. This Adam-style house built by Theodore Gaillard was designed with extensive side porches and windows to take in the cooling breezes, and it stands on a considerable lot that stretches back nearly one block. Filling of Ashley River marshes in the 1880’s left the grand old house high and dry, but it still retains its classic elegance, if not its breezy nature. <img.src=”Charleston Architecture” alt=”Gaillard-Bennett House

Regal Ravenel

The Arthur Ravenel Bridge in #CharlestonSC is marvel of 21st century technology that adds a graceful modern look to a charming historic city. The bridge, which opened in 2005, spans nearly three miles, with two 575-foot towers that suspend an 8-lane roadbed 186 feet about the water level at high tide by means of 126 powerful cables. The bridge has both a pedestrian and bicyclic lane, and has become one of the most popular destinations for hikers and photographers alike. It replaced two parallel bridges, one built in 1929 and the other in 1965, that were narrow and downright scary to drive. The new Ravenel is a driving delight, and is built to withstand hurricanes, earthquakes or the unlikely strike from a passing ship. <img.src=”Charleston Landmarks” alt=”Ravenel Bridge

Scot Spot

The First Scots Presbyterian Church on Meeting Street in historic #Charleston is among the oldest in the city, completed in 1814. The church replaced the original Scottish “Kirk” built on this site in 1731, which was too small for the expanding congregation by the 19th century. The builders were also Scots, John and James Gordon, who in the frugal Scottish tradition, saved the cost of a steeple with a pair of domed towers, The concept had come from another pair Scots, Robert and James Adam, whose  Adam style swept America in the early 1800’s. One tower had a bell that was donated to the Confederacy and melted down for cannon, and the church went without chimes until the current bell was installed in 1999. We go past the First Scot church on my walking tours, and often hear organ or bagpipe music. <img.src=”Charleston Landmarks” alt=”First Scots Presbyterian Church