Southern Holiday Traditions

How do you celebrate Christmas in Charleston and where did those traditions originate? The South is rich in history, and Charleston is no exception. Did you know that Southern states were the first to adopt Christmas as a legal holiday? (Alabama in 1836, followed by Louisiana and Arkansas in 1838.) Over the years, it’s no surprise that many regional Southern holiday traditions have spread around the country.

CHARLESTON’S POINSETTIA ROOTS

Southern holiday poinsettiaToday we hail the poinsettia as the official plant of the Christmas season. Did you know this is thanks to a South Carolina gentleman by the name of Joel Robert Poinsett? Poinsett was in the US House of Representatives and also served as the Minister to Mexico. While on a trip to Mexico in 1925, he discovered the festive red-colored flower. He brought it home to Charleston and introduced it as a holiday adornment. The rest is history. Today, throughout the South and the nation you will see these beautiful flowers displayed on the inside and outside of homes during the Yuletide season.

CITRUS FOR THE SEASON

Southern holiday citrus decorationsIt is a Southern holiday tradition to this day for Santa to leave some citrus fruit in children’s stockings. No, it’s not a gimmick to take up space. Years ago, finding citrus in your stocking in the middle of winter was a luxury. Citrus was only available during certain seasons of the year, so to receive an orange at Christmas was a special and expensive treat. Decorating wreaths, trees and holiday decor with different citrus fruits is still a tradition today. In fact, take a tour around Downtown Charleston or visit one of the museum houses to see citrus and evergreen decorations on the outsides as well as interiors of historic Charleston homes. To view some beautiful examples, visit The Charleston Museum’s blog showcasing the Garden Club of Charleston’s traditional holiday decorations at the Joseph Manigault House. They will be on display to the public through December 31.

FRIED TURKEY, OYSTERS & PECAN PIE

Southern holiday oystersWhat would a Southern meal be without any of these delicacies? Fresh oysters are popular during the holiday season because their harvest is best during the coldest time of year. (Remember the old adage that oysters are good during months that have an “R” in their names.) Deep frying as a preparation for turkey also originated in the South. And don’t forget the pecan pie for dessert. The documented history of this recipe dates back to the 1880s. Legend says the French in New Orleans made a version of it after Native Americans introduced them to the pecan tree. Today this gooey, delicious Southern treat has spread across the country and is a staple this time of year. Visit Southern Living for a variety of delicious pecan pie recipes and other traditional Southern holiday foods.

What holiday treats and traditions does your family celebrate? Please share in the comments. Disher, Hamrick & Myers wishes HAPPY HOLIDAYS to all!
 


North Central Charleston

North Central is one of several neighborhoods on Charleston’s upper peninsula currently undergoing a residential revival. The area is bounded to the north by Mount Pleasant Street, the south by Congress Street, the west by Rutledge Avenue and the east by I-26. This up-and-coming, yet still diverse, community is composed mainly of early- and mid-20th century cottages and bungalows. Many of these older structures are undergoing renovations, joining new construction of high-end apartments and condo communities. For now, North Central remains one of the more affordable areas of downtown Charleston. Home and rent prices couple with proximity to Upper King Street and NoMo to make this a highly desirable and quickly-growing neighborhood.

Adding to its convenience, North Central is rated the 9th most walkable neighborhood in Charleston with a Walk Score and bike score of 74. Most errands, shopping, dining, nightlife and even commuting can be accomplished on foot or 2 wheels. It also borders other emerging neighborhoods of Cannonborough/Elliotborough, Hampton Park and Wagener Terrace. As a result, it’s attractive to young professionals, college and medical school students and downtown professional workers, along with families and long-time residents.

North Central mural

A mural on the corner of Senate Street and Strawberry Lane shows the layout of North Central in 1872.

Upcoming projects impacting the vicinity include the proposed Lowcounrty Low Line park, which will travel through North Central and add community green space. In addition, Historic Charleston Foundation and the City of Charleston have designated preserving the vernacular historic fabric and diversity of North Central as their top priority. Their goals of their Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative include promoting and facilitating:

  1. Historic preservation and revitalization
  2. Affordable housing
  3. Home ownership
  4. Livability and quality of life

With these longer-term initiatives in place, it’s safe to say North Central will only become a more popular and desirable destination to live.

 

WHERE TO EAT in NORTH CENTRAL

North Central is home to some of Charleston’s hippest restaurants and lounges. No matter what you are in the mood for, you have many delicious dining options including:

Rodney Scott’s BBQ – James Beard Award-winning pitmaster Rodney Scott serves up slow-smoked BBQ and all the fixins’.

Huriyali – Nutritious fresh cold pressed juices, smoothies, sandwiches and salads.

The Park Cafe – Breakfast served daily along with lighter fare prepared tastefully in an understated but refined setting.

The Harbinger Cafe & Bakery –  Locally-sourced and seasonal breakfast and lunch as well as a curated selection of top-notch baked goods.

Moe’s Crosstown Tavern – A “vintage pub” with burgers, wraps, quesadillas and sandwiches served alongside cold drinks and the latest game on TV.

Faculty Lounge – A low-key cocktail joint offering beer specials, tap wine and bar snacks, plus dance nights.

 

If you are interested in learning more about North Central Charleston or making it your home, be sure to contact us at 843.577.4115 today.

View All Homes For Sale in North Central

 


The Best Ways to Enjoy the Outdoors in Charleston This Fall

The fall season is a busy time in Charleston, with plenty of events and activities to do. You’ll enjoy the cooling temperatures that still allow for plenty of time spent outdoors. Charleston is known to be the top city to visit in the Carolinas, one of the best places to live and even one of the top places for dogs–so you can be sure to find a variety of things to do outdoors. From parks, to tours, to water activities, there is always something to do in Charleston. Check out these best ways to enjoy the outdoors in Charleston this fall.

 

SEE FALL COLORS

Hampton Park is the place to to see the beauty of the season with the changing fall leaves. This 60-acre park is one of the largest in Charleston and features beautiful gardens as well as plenty of deciduous trees. You’ll find paved walkways to stroll along with adequate restroom facilities. Use different trails throughout the park to see a wide variety of trees and shrubs that will begin to change color with the cooling fall temperatures.

 

GO SAILING

sailboats outdoors - fall in Charleston

Getting out on the water is a prime activity in Charleston. Consider one of the many charters that will take you sailing. Fall is a great time to sail, as it isn’t too hot on the water. Consider a sunset sail to view the beautiful sunsets over the water as well the coastline in its full fall glory. Dinner options are available for those wanting to eat aboard, as well as more educational opportunities for those wishing to learn the ropes of sailing.

 

TAKE A GHOST TOUR

Taking a ghost tour in the fall is fitting for the spooky season. Charleston is well-known for being not only a historic settlement, but also a place filled haunted buildings. There are many different options for ghost tours, but the most popular is the Haunted Jail Tour. You’ll learn a lot about the history of Charleston as well as past residents…that may still be hanging around.

 

ENJOY A CARRIAGE RIDE

There is nothing better than snuggling up with a loved one and enjoying a ride through downtown. Charleston is known for horse-drawn carriages that take you all around the city. Many different tour companies welcome you on board for a lovely stroll through the historic area. Take a carriage ride during the day to get a great view of the fall colors that dot the area.

 

CATCH YOUR DINNER

friends fishing outdoors - fall in CharlestonKnown for its fantastic fishing opportunities, Charleston is a place you can catch your own dinner. Many fishing guides take you out on the Lowcountry’s tidal waters that supply redfish, speckled sea trout and flounder. Other favorite spots are the reefs near the shoreline, where you can catch varieties like black sea bass and king mackerel. Residents and tourists alike can try their hand at the world-class fishing available in the area’s waters.

 

ATTEND AN OYSTER ROAST

And if you prefer not to have to catch your own dinner, but still want to enjoy a Lowcountry seafood specialty, be sure to attend an oyster roast. Oyster season kicks off in the fall and continues through any month with an R. Most weekends, you’ll find locals and visitors shucking buckets of the steamed bivalves. Just be sure to bring your oyster gloves, knives and hot sauce!

 

GET IN THE HOLIDAY SPIRIT

The Holiday Festival of Lights opens in early November and has been voted one of the best Christmas light displays in the country. The show is located at James Island County Park and is a driving tour that you can enjoy from the comfort of your car. However, make sure to park and explore all of the other things that the Holiday Festival of Lights has to offer, like the sand sculpture, holiday train and carousel. While it may be the end of fall, the Festival of Lights will quickly put you in the holiday spirit.

Not only does the Charleston area boast many outdoor activities, but the full range of activities caters to a broad demographic. Those looking for a relaxing time outside can take a carriage ride or walk through a park. Thrill seekers can find ghost tours, fishing charters and sailing out on the water for more upbeat activities. Whatever you choose, consider one of these best ways to enjoy the outdoors in Charleston this autumn.

What are your favorite fall activities in Charleston? Let us know (and post your pics!) in the comments.

Author David Wheeler is a landscape design writer and nature enthusiast. He is an avid traveler and loves to spend his time hiking and strolling through magnificent gardens, learning about rare and native flowers across the world.


Fort Sumter Hotel

Fort Sumter House at 1 King Street began its existence as the Fort Sumter Hotel, which opened to guests in 1924. Designed by prominent commercial architect G. Lloyd Preacher of Atlanta, GA, the Spanish Colonial-style structure was built at a cost of $850,000. The 7-story building is located along the South Battery, directly adjacent to White Point Garden. At its inception, it was the tallest building as well as the only luxury hotel on the Charleston Peninsula. A 1929 brochure boasts, “spacious lobbies, sun parlors and terraces, comfortable and luxuriously furnished, overlook the water and offer cordial hospitality in an atmosphere to be found in few hotels.”

Fort Sumter Hotel 1924 postcard

The Fort Sumter Hotel near its opening in 1924

The second floor featured a grand ballroom and lounge. The ground level housed a dining room which for many years was one of downtown Charleston’s few restaurants. From 1954-1973, this eatery was called the Rampart Room. It was decorated with images of Southern Colonels and murals of Charleston scenes. A rarity in its time, it touted air conditioning and “manufactured ice” in its drinks.

FAMOUS VISITORS

The Fort Sumter Hotel has had its share of notable guests. John F. Kennedy, then a young Naval intelligence officer, stayed in 1942. While there, he engaged in a tryst with a suspected German spy that was recorded by the FBI. The ensuing scandal changed the course of history. Playwright Tennessee Williams and Producer Irene Selznick visited in 1947. In fact, Williams hand wrote scenes for “A Streetcar Named Desire” on hotel stationery. Between those dates it served as the headquarters for the Sixth Naval District (prior to its move to the old Navy Base), before being remodeled and returned to hotel operation.

Throughout the 1950s, famed Charleston Renaissance artist Alfred Hutty’s paintings and etchings were on permanent exhibit in the hotel. He even held annual exhibitions there in the hopes of selling this work to the steadily-growing number of tourists in the Holy City. His 1949 mural “Attack on Fort Sumter” still hangs in the hotel lobby today.

 

CONDO CONVERSION

In 1967, Sheraton purchased the hotel for $435,000 and spent half a million dollars on renovations. They would be the last corporation to run the Fort Sumter as a hotel. In 1973, a group of local investors bought the property for $850,000 – the same price as it originally cost to build half a century earlier. The Fort Sumter Hotel closed in 1973 and its 225 rooms were converted into 67 condominiums at a cost of $2 million. The condo conversion required a change in zoning which then-Mayor Palmer Gaillard said would “have a major significance on zoning throughout the city.” A contemporary marketing piece noted that “Fort Sumter House represents the only high-rise structure of its kind in the historic area of the city, local sentiment and strict zoning dictate that no other structures of this height can ever be constructed.” Today, there are 72 residential units and businesses have returned to the ground floor. Fort Sumter House is one of many notable examples of adaptive reuse in this historic city.

1 King Street 709, Fort Sumter House aerial viewResidents of the building enjoy panoramic views of White Point Gardens, historic Battery mansions, city rooftops and steeples, the Ashley and Cooper Rivers, Patriots Point and the Yorktown, and even Fort Sumter and the Atlantic Ocean. The South of Broad location at the corner of King Street and Murray Blvd. can’t be beat. Amenities include on-site security, parking lots, an exercise room and private palmetto tree-lined pool along the Battery. If you would like to live in this piece of Charleston history, Disher, Hamrick & Myers is offering a top floor, corner unit for sale. Contact Real Estate Agent Saida A. Russell at 843.478.9391 for more information.


Crafts House – Adaptive Reuse From School to Condos

Charleston is a city full of successful adaptive architecture. Recently, the American College of the Building Arts opened its campus in the former Trolley Barn. The DHM Blog has previously profiled the condominiums at 3 Chisolm Street in the old Murray Vocational School. But this isn’t the only area school building repurposed into residences. The Crafts House at 67 Legare Street was originally home to a free school for children founded by antebellum Charleston lawyer, poet and philanthropist, William Crafts (1787-1826). Crafts was a Harvard University graduate who served in both houses of the South Carolina General Assembly.

Crafts was an advocate for free public education, and as such, purchased the property at the corner of the current Queen and Legare Streets for this purpose. He built his first school, designed by Edward C. Jones, in 1859. He called it the Friend Street School after the road’s original name. That building burned in a fire during the Civil War in 1861. A new Gothic Revival building designed by architects Abrahams and Seyle replaced it in 1881. This style, featuring buttresses and lancet arches, mimics that of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist just across Legare Street.

Crafts House Condos in downtown Charleston

By the turn of the 20th century, the Crafts School accommodated over 1200 students in 14 classrooms. In 1915, a three-story wing (seen on the right side of the accompanying photo) was added by David Hyer, who also designed Buist Academy. The Crafts School served the area’s children until the 1970s. After that, the building was used as administrative offices until the mid-1980s, when it was remodeled into condominiums. Today, the Crafts House features 31 one- and two- bedroom units in the heart of Harleston Village. Residents can enjoy views of St. Michael’s, St. Phillip’s, and St. John’s Church steeples while listening to their sonorous chiming of the hours from the nicely landscaped gardens surround the building.

 


The Games Charlestonians Play

As with many things in life, Charlestonians take liberties with the ordinary rules of leisurely games. It’s no surprise that the same city where people sit on piazzas instead of porches, order drinks “2, 3 ways” and consider madras bowties formal wear, has created its own versions of several standard activities. Here, we look at 3 of the more popular.

BEACH GOLF

beach golfCharleston’s take on beach golf was invented in the early 1990s by native Thomas “Big T” Alexander. It requires a beach and at least two players, each with a putter and ball. But after this, there are no formal rules. Scoring, course layout and other details are left to the discretion of whoever brings the playing equipment — and refreshments. This player outlines a fairway and green in the sand and establishes par. He or she also decides the order of play, whether a putt can be re-hit in mid-roll if it’s headed into the Atlantic, and if penalties incur. Rules can even change mid-swing. The leader also keeps the score, a job that virtually guarantees a lopsided win.

 

HALF RUBBER

Although it’s been played for at least 90 years, no one can say where half rubber started. Charleston claims to be the official birthplace, but so does Florence, Myrtle Beach and Savannah. As its name suggests, half rubber is played with half of a rubber ball. Some purists say the proper tool to produce this object is a deli-style meat slicer. Just shave off pieces of a rubber ball until the desired shape is reached. (Those pieces make handy coasters.) But if you don’t know a deli owner, a pocket knife will serve nicely. Next, you need about four feet of a broomstick. You can even buy a stick and half a ball prepackaged, but purists may razz you about your store-bought equipment.

Play requires three or more people. If you play with three, it’s every man for himself. If more, you divide into teams. One person pitches, one catches and a third stands between them swinging the stick. The half-ball’s unique shape results in dips and curves. Making contact is so difficult, any hit is considered a single. A miss is a strike, unless the catcher also catches it, which makes it an out. By some rules, a tipped ball caught by the catcher counts as two outs. You’re also out after three strikes or if you hit a fly that’s caught. Three outs and your inning is over. The game continues until reaching a pre-agreed number of innings, until the half rubber disappears down a storm drain, or until happy hour starts.

 

BOCCE

bocce

Egyptians played a Bocce-like game 7000 years ago, but credit for the modern version goes to the Italians. The pallina is a small ball. A player from one team throws it a few yards away and then two teams alternately throw larger balls at it. Points are scored by landing your ball close to the pallina. The more balls you leave inside your opponents’ closest ball, the more points you score. Spocking (or bombing) is the art of hitting an opponent’s close ball and knocking it into the Mediterranean, or whatever ocean you have handy. This aspect of the game also translates nicely to Charleston. While bocce is usually played on a finely manicured lawn, in Charleston, it’s played on the beach. This leads to some interesting play, with challenges such as sand dunes, tidal pools, sunbathers, sand castles, shells and the incoming or outgoing tide.

Beach golf, bocce and half rubber add their charm to the many other unique Lowcountry traditions that once led a Civil War era statesman to describe South Carolina as a place “too small to be a republic and too large to be an asylum.” Regardless of the implications of that statement, Charlestonians are happy with their games and are unimpressed by how anyone plays them anywhere else.

 


Cannonborough-Elliotborough

Cannonborough-Elliotborough is an up-and-coming transitional neighborhood populated by students, young professionals and long-time local families. Rife with redevelopment, it offers some of the more affordable housing (both fixer-uppers and renovations) on the Charleston peninsula, as well as a number of hip restaurants, corner stores and cocktail joints all within walking distance.

 

LOCATION

Located on the downtown Charleston peninsula, the Cannonborough-Elliotborough neighborhood is bordered by the Crosstown (Septima P. Clark) Espressway on the north, Bee and Morris Streets to the South, President Street on the east and King Street to the west. Rutledge Avenue creates the boundary between Cannonborough to its west and Elliottborough to its east, but today, the two neighborhoods function as one with no border. Much of the land was originally marsh that has since been filled in. Major roads include Spring, Rutledge, Bogard and Line Streets. The MUSC campus, College of Charleston, Charleston School of Law, Upper King Street and the Crosstown–with access to all areas of Charleston–are all nearby.

 

HISTORY

The area was first settled 1785 by Col. Barnard Elliot, a planter and member of the Provincial Congress for whom Elliotborough is named. Cannonborough is named after Daniel Cannon, a carpenter and mechanic who owned several lumber mills in the area. Throughout its history, it has been populated by blue-collar workers and ethnic groups. As agriculture gave way to industry in the mid-19th century, lumber mills and shipping and rail lines moved into the area to take advantage of its lower costs. With them came blue-collar workers, immigrants of various ethnicities and freed slaves. German, Irish, Polish and Jewish residents lived alongside African-American and working-class whites.

During the mid-20th century, Cannonborough-Elliotborough experienced the same “white flight” as other American cities, and became largely African American. The completion of the Crosstown in 1967 disrupted the residential climate of the area and furthered its decline throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Today, the neighborhood is experiencing a revitalization that is returning it to its roots with a mix of workers, students, older residents and young families. The recent conversion of Cannon and Spring Streets from one-way thoroughfares to two-way traffic seeks to further encourage community growth.

 

NOTABLE BUILDINGS

Cannonborough-Elliotborough has always been known for its vernacular architecture rather than the grand mansions and gardens in other parts of historic Charleston. However, it does have its own noteworthy structures. For example, it contains a high concentration of the city’s remaining Freedman’s cottages. Charleston single houses and Victorian homes dwell next to more modern structures. While the area is mostly residential, churches and small local businesses also dot the area. And it has a greater concentration of corner stores than other parts of downtown Charleston.

 

CANNONBOROUGH-ELLIOTBOROUGH RESTAURANTS

In the past few years, several of these corner stores and other structures have become home to local favorite joints as well as new and exciting culinary concepts. Residents and visitors alike flock to the area to enjoy restaurants including:

Cannonborough-Elliotborough even has its fair share of fine dining such as:

If you are looking to join a diverse, growing community where property values are still relatively reasonable for downtown Charleston, consider making this neighborhood your new home. Disher, Hamrick & Myers currently has 2 properties for sale in the area: a Charleston single house at 21 Coming Street, and condo G in the Victorian home at 52 South Battery.

View All Homes For Sale in Cannonborough-Elliotborough

 


Kiawah & Seabrook Islands

It doesn’t take long to fall in love with the islands.

Kiawah Island and Seabrook Island are places steeped in history and Lowcountry legend. Sprawling oaks meld seamlessly with tropical flora. Vast stretches of tidal marsh serve as a buffer between the islands and the world beyond. Whitetail deer, fox, otters and birds of every imaginable feather call the islands home. Sea turtles crawl up their beaches to lay their eggs and return to the sea. Your sense of hearing is soothed and pampered, as the ocean gently breaks on the shore and sea breezes rustle through the pines and palm fronds. These islands are, quite simply, worlds unto themselves. Residents slip free from the bonds of stress that tie them to ordinary life and lie in a hammock of natural beauty, wonder and recreation.

 

KIAWAH ISLAND

The history of Kiawah Island goes back the the beginning of Charleston itself. The island is named for the Kiawah Indians, who led the first English settlers to the site that is now Charles Towne Landing in 1670. After some time as a lumber farm, it began to be developed in the 1970s and ’80s. Today, it is a world-class resort by any standards. It offers a 10-mile stretch of pristine beach, world-renowned golf courses, two exceptional tennis centers, restaurants, shopping, swimming pools, a 21-acre recreation park and over 30 miles of paved bike trails.

Kiawah IslandMany who visit Kiawah declare it the most beautiful place they’ve ever seen. But what makes this island so spectacular? It’s actually quite simple: the island’s beauty spans 360 degrees. There are no “less desirable” views; the flora and fauna teem throughout. No matter which way you look, the island has beauty to spare. From the wide, pristine beach to the diverse and wondrous maze of dunes, from the rich and healthy maritime forest to the creeks and marshes that hold countless fresh seafood dinners, Kiawah is a place that demonstrates the value of master planning for the future.

To a golfer, the sport alone is enough to place Kiawah as a resort without peer. Pete Dye, Tom Fazio, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Clyde Johnson have all designed Kiawah gold courses. The most famous, The Ocean Course, is only the fourth course to have hosted each of the PGAs major championships. Very few golfers in the world would disagree with a Kiawah resident who bragged, “I don’t go on golf vacations…I live a golf vacation.” For non-golfers, Kiawah Island also boasts one of the Charleston area’s most lauded luxury resorts, The Sanctuary Hotel and Spa.

 

SEABROOK ISLAND

Located just 23 miles from historic Charleston, SC, the gated community of Seabrook Island is close enough for commuting, but far enough to feel like a world all its own. It was named after William Seabrook, who owned it in the early 19th century. The island has a natural beauty that’s second to none. More than 4 miles of unspoiled beaches border the Atlantic surf and the tidal flow of the Edisto River. When you leave the sea oats and sand dunes behind, another side of the island’s character unfolds. Along with miles of beautiful beaches, Seabrook Island has two championship golf courses, a first-class racquet club, a marina complex, shops, restaurants and fishing. Homes are tucked into a lush subtropical forest of live oaks, hickories, magnolias and palmetto trees.

An award-winning environmental plan protects the wildlife habitat. It has helped make Seabrook Island one of America’s premier bird watching centers. Over 80 species, including federally protected birds, make the island their home. Seabrook is also a special retreat for the equestrian. A network of riding trails winds through the island, and beach riding is at its best. The Seabrook Island Equestrian Center is one of the finest in South Carolina, with boarding, lessons and a professional staff.

 

LIVING ON THE ISLANDS

Bohicket MarinaAdditional shopping, dining and activities are available at the entrance to both islands on Betsy Kerrison Parkway at Freshfields Village and Bohicket Marina. Truly, these resort communities offer something for everyone. Some will argue that once a place is discovered as desirable, it loses the things that make it desirable. While that may be true of many beautiful areas in the world, it’s far from true in the cases of Kiawah and Seabrook Islands. To the delight of residents (and consternation of competitors), these islands keep getting better.

To make one of Charleston’s barrier islands your home, call Disher, Hamrick &  Myers at 843.577.4115 today.

View All Homes For Sale on Kiawah & Seabrook Islands

 


Charleston’s Corinthian Columns

Charleston is a city that’s crazy about columns. It’s been that way since the early days. In fact, a few of our more historic columns have survived challenges that turned other architectural treasures to rubble. Civil War shelling, earthquakes, hurricanes and the periodic insanity of urban renewal have been flattening buildings for centuries, but occasionally their original columns live on.

A good example can be found in the ruins of the old Charleston Museum at Rutledge and Calhoun streets. The building is gone with the wind (or fire, in this case), but its columns, with their beautiful Corinthian capitals, have been preserved. Columns like the old Museum’s have become symbols of our community’s grace and grit. Many are in the Corinthian style, an ornate design said to be inspired by a basket left as a graveside offering in the fifth century BC.

According to legend, a Greek architect named Callimachus noticed the way an acanthus plant weaved its leaves up through the basket. He was so taken by this vision, he carved it into a new capital — the decorative topmost section of a column. Instead of the simple lines of the Doric capitals or the swirling arms of Ionic columns, the new design was far more elaborate. It never really caught on with his fellow Greeks, but the Romans fell in love with it. The upper tier of the Coliseum is Corinthian, and Roman builders used the flowery shape throughout Europe to decorate everything from aqueducts to stands for potted plants.

DHM Real Estate Agent Ruthie SolidayHere in Charleston, you’ll see variations of the Corinthian capital in some of our most beautiful residential, civic and commercial architecture — old as well as new. Many South of Broad single houses employ the classical order on their piazzas, with Corinthian columns on the top level. Throughout its history, Charleston’s architects have maintained a love affair with the Corinthian capital. However, its beauty and strength goes beyond architecture: just take a look at Disher, Hamrick & Myers’ logo. Whether it’s on a real estate sign or a tall entryway column, the Corinthian design is one of the most enduring and popular in Charleston.

 


The Charleston Single House

The single house is an architectural style found almost exclusively in Charleston, SC and this home plan gives the historic city much of its unique charm. The layout of a single house is ideally suited to the narrow street-facing lots originally laid out in Charleston in the late 17th and early 18th centuries (see Grand Modell). The homes are only one room wide and two rooms deep on each level, with a central hall between. Typically a porch, or piazza as it is known in Charleston, runs the length of the house with a public door facing the street. Visitors must enter the home through this entrance and traverse the porch before entering the central private door into the home. To take best advantage of prevailing breezes, piazzas always face south or west.

Charleston Single House at 62 Tradd St.

Public spaces, like an entry or office, inhabit the first floor. Entertaining spaces, such as drawing rooms, withdrawing rooms or ballrooms occupy the second floor – above the hustle and bustle (and mess and smells) of the streetways. Family spaces and bedrooms are found on the third floor. Each room would incorporate more or less decorative detail according to its use, with second floor spaces having the highest ceilings with intricate and colorful moldings. Those high ceilings, coupled with tall windows (often floor-length to accommodate walking out to the piazzas) allowed breezes to flow through the rooms and helped make Lowcountry weather more bearable.

Outbuildings, such as kitchens, stables and carriage houses, were constructed separate from the main house to the rear of the property. Today, many of these have been converted into separate residences (and given rise to the unique ½ address that dot the Charleston Peninsula). Other outbuildings were later connected to the main residence via “hyphens.” Kitchens were built away from the main house in an attempt to prevent fires — such as the numerous ones that destroyed large swaths of the peninsula — from spreading to the living quarters. This is also why the back wall of the main houses had fewer windows than might be expected for ventilation.

Charleston Single House at 45 Church St.

Various decorative styles have been applied to the single house layout, including Federal, Greek Revival, Italianate and Victorian. Two and three-story piazzas often employ the classical order of columns with the ground level being Doric, followed by Ionic and Corinthian. Formal gardens beautified the side yards to be enjoyed from the shady porches. In fact, upper porches were sometimes used as sleeping quarters on hot, humid nights.

Don’t believe a tour guide who tells you single houses were a reaction to the city taxing street frontage. Instead, “early Charlestonians developed the Single House as an ingenious solution to the various demands of their unique urban landscape: a house that provided privacy, ventilation, fire protection, and social status within the confines of a tightly restrictive public space.” (credit Charleston County Pubic Library)

Disher, Hamrick & Myers Real Estate currently has several archetypical singles houses for sale in downtown Charleston: 24 King Street, 286A Meeting Street, 286C Meeting Street and 9 Bogard Street. If this style historic home appeals to you, contact us for a showing!