French Quarter Art Walk

Disher, Hamrick & Myers is proud to be located in the heart of the city’s original commercial district on Broad Street in the French Quarter of historic downtown Charleston. And one of our neighborhood’s favorite events is coming up tomorrow, Friday, December 6: the Charleston Gallery Association’s French Quarter Art Walk. This will be the last Art Walk of the year. Over 40 galleries and shops will stay open from 5-8 in the evening to welcome art lovers and guests. Many serve wine and light refreshments and host artists and exhibit openings. USAToday named the Art Walk one of the  10BEST “Free Things to Do” in Charleston.

ART WALK INSIDER TIPS

All the participants are within walking distance and maps can be picked up at any location. You may start at any one and visit as many as you wish at your own pace. Strike up a lively conversation with a gallery owner or artist. Discuss your reaction to a painting or sculpture, and maybe even find a piece to add to your own collection. Art prices are very accessible. Prints and original pieces are available for under $50. Larger pieces of fine art and jewelry are priced up to the tens of thousands of dollars. There is truly the opportunity for everyone to find something they can afford and enjoy.

French Quarter art walkArchitecture buffs should be sure to take advantage of the opportunity to see inside and behind the buildings normally only glimpsed from the street front. To make the most of your experience, venture off the beaten path to shops and galleries that are located in alleyways or on the second or third levels of buildings. The streets will be bustling with locals and visitors of all ages.

 

HIGHLIGHTS OF DECEMBER 6, 2019

This Friday’s Art Walk includes special events at the following galleries:

After the Art Walk, treat yourself to a cocktail or dinner at one of the French Quarter’s restaurants, like the upscale Oak Steakhouse or Disher, Hamrick & Myers’ neighbor, the Blind Tiger Pub. The weather should be pleasantly warm and sunny, presenting the perfect opportunity to stroll the historic streets of downtown Charleston. Beautiful weather, art, architecture, food, drink, and company – what more could you ask for on a Friday evening? We look forward to seeing you all there!

 

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A Tale of Two Charleston Live Theatres

Charleston is home to many firsts, including America’s first museum, first golf course, first regularly-scheduled passenger train, and of course the first historic district. But did you know we also had the first theatre – which predates America itself?

That’s right, New York’s Broadway isn’t the only place famous for offering live stage performances. To this day, Charleston, South Carolina continues to present many different entertainment options, making it an enticing place to live or visit.

Two Charleston theatres are DHM’s neighbors in the French Quarter neighborhood of downtown Charleston. Each has its own place in our nation’s dramatic history. Here are their stories.

 

THE DOCK STREET THEATRE

The oldest and most famous place to experience live theatre in Charleston is the historic Dock Street Theatre. It is located on the corner of Church Street and Queen Street, which was previously named Dock Street. The original structure on the site dated to 1736 and was the very first building in the colonies constructed exclusively for live theatre.

Its first production was of George Farquhar’s rather risqué play, The Recruiting Officer. This popular 18th century script was also the first to be staged on Broadway, and continues to be performed contemporarily. The first opera recital in America, Flora, also took place at the Dock Street.

Iron Balcony at Planters Hotel, Docks Street Theatre, CharlestonThat original building was probably lost along with many of its neighbors in the Great Fire of 1740. Roughly 70 years later, in 1809, the current building was erected on the site. It operated as the Planter’s Hotel for the next 136 years. In 1835, a balcony trimmed with exquisite iron railings was added. That balcony still exists above the current entrance.

Unfortunately, the Civil War destroyed much of the rest of the hotel. It stood in disrepair until the Great Depression, when it was slated for demolition. However, in 1935, the building was purchased by the City of Charleston and renovated as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project. The interior of the existing hotel was retrofitted to return the building to its original purpose as a live theatre.

Stage at the Dock Street Theatre, CharlestonMore than 100 years after its first opening performance, the restored Dock Street Theatre held a second grand opening in November 1937. Following historic precedent, it staged a revival of The Recruiting Officer. The revitalized theatre enjoyed decades as Charleston’s primary venue for stage performances. It earned recognition on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

But by the 21st century, the stage was showing its age. Dated facilities and uncomfortable seating drew from its appeal. This time, the City of Charleston undertook a state-of-the-art renovation. Completed in March 2010, it leaves the Dock Street well-equipped to enter its fourth century at the heart of Charleston’s artistic community.

Dock Street Theatre, Charleston, SCSince 1978, Charleston Stage has been the resident theatrical company at the Dock Street. They produce more than 100 performances each year. Today, you can experience live theatre in America’s first playhouse, as countless residents and visitors alike have over the years. The current schedule is available here.

 

THE QUEEN STREET PLAYHOUSE

While the Dock Street is the oldest physical theatre in Charleston, the Footlight Players are the longest existing theatre company in the city. Formed in 1931, they originally acted on various stages around Charleston, including the Dock Street. In fact, they are the troupe who performed at the 1937 second opening of the Dock Street Theatre. They remained in residence there until 1941.

Queen Street Playhouse, Charleston, SCBy that time, the Players realized the need for their own performance space. They had purchased a c. 1850 cotton warehouse at 20 Queen Street back in 1934. That facility initially functioned as storage and scenery construction space, but soon proved an ideal location for their needs. Volunteers remodeled the building into a true community playhouse.

Over the next few decades, the Footlight Players regularly performed at their own theatre as well as the Dock Street and other locations throughout the city. In 1986, they moved exclusively to the Queen Street location. However, it was more than 30 years later, in August 2018, that the current name was adopted. Today, the Footlight Players host dozens of live performances each year at the rebranded Queen Street Playhouse.

 

OTHER CHARLESTON THEATRES

There are plenty of other live theatre venues in the Charleston area. Light-hearted comedy, mystery, magic, and musical shows make for a fun night on the town. Pure Theatre and the Woolfe Street Playhouse are more contemporary spaces, while the grand Gaillard Center and the North Charleston Performing Arts Center bring in national and international artists and productions. And don’t forget our local college and university drama departments. Even with all these choices, the Dock Street Theatre and Queen Street Playhouse retain their own revered places in Charleston’s dramatic history.

 

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DHM Proudly Sponsors the Fall Tours

Disher, Hamrick & Myers Real Estate is proud to sponsor The Preservation Society of Charleston’s 43rd Annual Fall Tours of Homes, History, & Architecture. This year, the tours take place from October 3 – November 2. This highly-anticipated event is The Preservation Society’s biggest fundraiser of the year. Founded in 1920, the organization’s goals are to recognize, protect, and advocate for the Lowcountry’s historic places.

If you’ve ever wanted to take a peek inside the grand historic estates in downtown Charleston, this is your chance. Volunteer homeowners open their doors to you and welcome you into their homes. Each tour includes 6-8 properties within walking distance, with guides stationed to help you navigate your way, as well as docents in each home to tell you more about its history, architecture, furnishings, and art.

In addition to the ever-popular house tours, there are garden tours, which let you peek behind the gates into private oases. Each Thursday, a curated tour of gardens is led by industry professionals, for those who desire a deeper dive into Charleston’s horticulture.

Then on Fridays, professional and amateur photographers alike are invited to attend a 3-hour walkabout that will teach them how to take stunning architectural photographs for their own collections. Be sure to bring a camera or phone to capture your masterpieces.

And early birds can take a morning history walk through downtown’s streets. While these strolls do not include admission into private homes or gardens, they are a wonderful opportunity to learn more about our beautiful city. Topics vary and include ironwork, the Grimke Sisters, architecture, and even our graveyards.

So put on your walking shoes and join DHM in supporting the Preservation Society for the 2019 Fall Tours!

 

MORE INFORMATION            PURCHASE TICKETS

 

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The History of Row Houses in Charleston

Row houses are a distinctive part of the architecture of many of the oldest cities across the United States. The style first appeared in Europe at the Place des Vosges in Paris, early in the 17th century, concurrent with the founding of America. It followed settlers across the Atlantic to the colonies, where early cities were founded near the water or on peninsulas. These connected homes make the most of limited land. Accordingly, they are prominent in port cities such as Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston.

 

WHAT IS A ROW HOUSE?

A row house is a single-family dwelling of at least 2 stories that shares one or both walls and roofline with a neighbor. While this definition also applies to townhouses, they differ in that row houses are very similar in architectural design and the facades are aligned. Townhouses, on the other hand, can be staggered from the street and may differ vastly in style.

Brownstone row housesOne well-known example of a row house is a New York brownstone, named after the reddish-brown color of sandstone on the exterior. Throughout Europe, row houses are called terraced houses. But across the US South, “row house” is a more generic term referring to any long contiguous group of residences. While there are a few brownstones in Charleston, row houses are more common along our historic streets.

 

CHARLESTON’S ROW HOUSES

A number of streets in downtown Charleston are adorned with beautiful row houses that date to the city’s earliest residents. Many of Charleston’s row houses have balconies with elaborate iron railings.

One such row has earned worldly distinction: Rainbow Row. This stretch of 13 homes is located on East Bay Street, just South of Broad. The collection of different pastel colors used on each individual residence led Robert Ripley of “Believe It Ot Not” fame to coin the term Rainbow Row.

While Rainbow Row is one of the most photographed areas in downtown Charleston, it has not always been that way. The homes were built in the middle of the 18th century as modest residences. Merchants working Charleston Harbor could conduct business downstairs and live upstairs.

99-101 East Bay Street Row HousesAfter the Civil War, the area was so rundown it was deemed a slum and stayed in disrepair for almost a century. Then in 1931, Judge Lionel Legge and his wife Dorothy purchased a block of the homes. It was Dorothy’s idea to paint the homes in colorful pastels, to reflect the city’s Colonial Caribbean affinity. She painted their primary residence at 99-101 East Bay Street pink.

Eventually, the entire row was repainted in various pastels. There is a longstanding legend that the homes were painted different colors so that drunken sailors could find their way to the proper front door. However, since the homes receive a generous amount of sunshine, it is more likely Legge’s motivation was to make the houses cooler in the hot South Carolina summers.

Whatever the original reason, these charming Charleston row houses have captivated the imagination and love of locals and tourists alike.

 

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French Quarter Art Walk

Disher, Hamrick & Myers is proud to be located in the heart of the city’s original commercial district on Broad Street in the French Quarter of historic downtown Charleston. And one of our neighborhood’s favorite events is coming up. The first Friday in March, May, October and December is the Charleston Gallery Association’s French Quarter Art Walk. Over 40 galleries and shops stay open from 5-8 in the evening to welcome art lovers and guests. Many serve wine and light refreshments and host artists and exhibit openings. USAToday named the art walk one of the  10BEST “Free Things to Do” in Charleston.

ART WALK INSIDER TIPS

All the participants are within walking distance and maps can be picked up at any location. You may start at any one and visit as many as you wish at your own pace. Strike up a lively conversation with a gallery owner or artist. Discuss your reaction to a painting or sculpture, and maybe even find a piece to add to your own collection. Art prices are very accessible, ranging from prints and original pieces available for under $50 to larger pieces of fine art and jewelry priced in the tens of thousands of dollars. There is truly the opportunity for everyone to find something they can afford and enjoy.

French Quarter art walkArchitecture buffs should be sure to take advantage of the opportunity to see inside and behind the buildings normally only glimpsed from the street front. To make the most of your experience, venture off the beaten path to shops and galleries that are located in alleyways or on the second or third levels of buildings. The streets will be bustling with locals and visitors of all ages.

After the art walk, treat yourself to a cocktail or dinner at one of the French Quarter’s restaurants, like the upscale Oak Steakhouse or Disher, Hamrick & Myers’ neighbor, the Blind Tiger Pub. The weather should be pleasantly warm and sunny, presenting the perfect opportunity to stroll the historic streets of downtown Charleston. Beautiful weather, art, architecture, food, drink and company – what more could you ask for on a Friday evening? We look forward to seeing you all there!

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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!
 

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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!

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