On my walking tours of historic Charleston, I like to give visitors information from top to bottom, literally. One of the scenic aspects found in many of the older buildings in the city comes from changes made long after they were built. One such common look is the Mansard roof. The high-hipped style of this rood became very popular in the Victorian era – late 1800’s and early 1900’s. That was a time when many residents of Charleston were cash poor after the Civil War and usually could not afford to build new houses. So what they often did was to add a new detail to the house that was already there, and today you’ll see numerous Mansard roofs on buildings that were built many years before that became stylish. <img.src=”Charleston Architecture” alt=”Mansard Roof”
St. Philip’s is the oldest congregation in the city, but not the oldest structure. The original St. Philip’s church was built in 1680, where St. Michael’s stands today, and after the parish was split in two in 1706, a new St. Philip’s was planned on what is now Church Street. The 1723 structure burned in 1835, and the current church was begun the same year.
The grand interior was designed by architect Joseph Hyde, who replicated the Mannerist style of that English architect James Gibbs featured in St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London. The exception details of plasterer Thomas Weaver and wood-joiner William Axson give the church nave a spectacular appearance, and the splendor of processional ceremonies is enhanced by a more recent addition – the 1970’s antiphonal organ, with its horizontal pipes that send sound waves booming across to the chancel and back.
The 198-foot steeple was added in 1848, designed by Edward Brickell White, and all eleven of the original bells were donated to the Confederacy and melted down for cannon. <img.src=”Charleston Architecture” alt=”St. Philip’s Church”
One of the great treats that those taking my walking tour get to enjoy, is a visit to the historic High Battery overlooking scenic Charleston Harbor. This is certainly the most photographed location in the city, with a breathtaking view in every location, whether it’s the harbor and Fort Sumter, or the grand houses known as Battery Row. There is a curios look to the old Ravenel House that many visitors ask about, wondering why it protrudes at the bottom. The answer is that the 1840’s mansion was built with an enormous two-story portico of Corinthian columns, all of which came crashing down in the earthquake that struck Charleston in 1886, and has never been replaced. <img.src=”Charleston Architecture” alt=”Ravenel House”
Touring historic Charleston offers a wide variety of impressive architectural sights, as the city is blessed with some of the grandest buildings in America. One of the most noticeable was the longest in construction – the U.S. Custom House on East Bay Street. The building was begun in 1852 in a location that had once been a wharf slip and was mostly landfill. Seven hundred pilings were driven by steam power into the marl to support the mammoth structure of granite, marble brick and masonry. Designed by New Hampshire native Ammi Young, the design was in the popular Greek Revival style of the period, and was meant to look somewhat similar to the Acropolis with Corinthian columned porticoes intended for all four sides. Work was halted with he coming of Secession and Civil War, and it wasn’t until the 1870’s that Congress was willing to devote money to its completion, and the design was scaled back with only from and back porticoes. The Construction was finally completed in 1879. <img.src=”Charleston Architecture” alt=”Custom House”
The striking architecture of Market Hall is one of the best-known and least-understood in historic #Charleston. The building was completed in 1841, and designed by the prolific Charleston-born architect and engineer, Edward Brickell White. The 1840’s in America was a time of when architecture was greatly influenced by ancient Greek and Roman concepts, and Market Hall is strictly Roman in nature. White was a West Point graduate whose architectural achievements can be found throughout Charleston today. Market Hall is distinguished by a dramatic portico built in the four-columned “tetra” style favored by Romans. The columns are plain Tuscan, and the area behind the columns, the proneos, is the exact width of the cella, or building facade, also in keeping with ancient Rome. The ornate frieze below the roof eaves is the most misunderstood and incorrectly-explained part of the building. Tourists are repeatedly told that the images of ram and ox heads were there to show slaves that the building was a meat market. Well in fact, the slaves, free blacks and everyone else knew very well where the meat market was, in the sheds behind the big building, where fish and vegetables were also sold. No, the frieze images are examples of bucrania, which is Latin for ox skull. Such images were commonly found on ancient Roman temples, where oxen and other animals were sacrificed to the gods. Market Hall is in effect, a replica of an ancient Roman temple, whose style has long been misrepresented and misunderstood. The mustard color on the stucco exterior was restored around 1998 when historical found records indicating that was the original color. <img.src=”Charleston Architecture” alt=”Market Hall”