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The Charleston Insider

We love Charleston and keep a pulse on what's going on in our community. Whether you are looking for interesting facts about Charleston's history, stories of the people living right here in our city today, or simply looking for things to do, places to eat, and where to stay, we've got you covered!
Diary of a Charleston Tour Guide

Diary of a Charleston Tour Guide

“Local history, occasional anecdotes, personal reflections of a Charleston tour guide.”

Monday, 07 January 2019 15:31

The Confederate Home | 60-64 Broad Street

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Broad Street has some wonderful structures and lots of stories. This week we visit 60-64 Broad Street or the Confederate Home, originally known as the Home for the Mothers, Widows, and Daughters of Confederate Soldiers.

During its strange and storied history, this property has been a residence which hosted a United States President, served as a hotel, a Federal courthouse, a college, apartment building and wedding destination.

Wednesday, 02 January 2019 09:51

New Year Greetings from The Charleston Hat Man | 43-47 Broad Street

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Happy New Year 2019! The Charleston Hat Man is one of our favorite iconic images and has been around for more than 100 years. This image is on the Church Street corner of 47 Broad Street.

43-47 Broad Street was built in 1855 by Charles Love and Conrad Wienges, saddlers and harness makers. In 1870, Charles Plenge bought the building and altered the façade, specifically adding a cornice with the name "Plenge." C. Charles Plenge was born in 1827 in Kassel, Germany and later emigrated to Charleston. Plenge established and operated a haberdashery at 43-47 Broad Street, selling men's clothing, hats, and other accessories. Mr. Plenge died in 1877, before the date of the Charleston Hat Man painting, which appears to be in the early 1890s.

Thursday, 27 December 2018 08:42

18 Bull Street - Blacklock House

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Holiday greetings are evident at the Blacklock House at 18 Bull Street. At the time of its construction in 1800, 18 Bull Street was considered more of a suburban retreat, as the area did not yet have much surrounding construction. As Charleston grew, houses sprang up in the area, but 18 Bull still stands out as a grand mansion in the area and is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

Monday, 17 December 2018 14:21

73 Rutledge Avenue | Whilden-Hirsch House

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This week we focus on 73 Rutledge Avenue, directly across the street from the house in last week’s post. As in the case of 74 Rutledge, this lot was also originally part of the property inherited by John Harleston from his aunt, Affra Harleston Coming. The house at 73 Rutledge was built by William G. Whilden around 1856.

Monday, 10 December 2018 10:09

74 Rutledge Avenue

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This week we return to the west side of the Charleston peninsula, not far from the Colonial Lake. We will focus on 74 Rutledge Avenue, a fine example of a double house completed around 1783 by Isaac Child Harleston.

Harleston was an officer during the American Revolution and a member of the Continental Congress.

Monday, 03 December 2018 09:44

Fireproof Building - 100 Meeting Street

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This week, we visit a public building that has undergone extensive renovation within the last several years and is now open to the public again -- the Fireproof Building inside Washington Park. The street address and entrance to the museum is 100 Meeting Street.

Completed around 1827, this building is remarkable for several reasons. It was built to be fireproof, using ironwork, brick covered with stucco, and other nonflammable materials inside.

Monday, 26 November 2018 11:12

39 South Battery

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This week we go back near the tip of the Charleston peninsula to visit 39 South Battery, one of my favorite examples of a single house (one room wide, two rooms deep). In fact, I painted a watercolor of this house many years ago and reproduced it as my first offset lithograph limited edition.

Located one street behind Murray Boulevard and the low battery wall...

Monday, 19 November 2018 14:27

34 Chapel Street

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This week we visit 34 Chapel Street constructed in 1840 using elements of both the Greek Revival and Gothic Revival styles. 34 Chapel is 6,500 square feet and rises above its neighboring structures; the distinctive double bowed piazzas in front are part of what makes this house a “show stopper” on Chapel Street.

34 Chapel was built by a member of the Toomer family, either Dr. Anthony Vanderhorst Toomer or his son, Dr. Henry Vanderhorst Toomer ...

Monday, 12 November 2018 12:03

10 Judith Street - John Robinson House

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This week we visit 10 Judith Street, built in 1814 by John Robinson, the same merchant gentleman who six years later built the Aiken Rhett House at 48 Elizabeth Street. Mr. Robinson, as you may recall, ran into financial problems around 1827 and had to sell most of his properties. 10 Judith is one property Robinson kept; over 6,000 square feet with two and one-half stories over a raised basement, the house is brick covered in stucco with double piazzas topped with a pediment between two dormers. The iron staircase leads to a magnificent main door with a fanlight and sidelights. 10 Judith was a wise choice to keep.

Monday, 05 November 2018 11:53

28 Chapel Street - Elias Vanderhorst House

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This week we visit 28 Chapel Street in Wraggborough, another Greek Revival home built in Charleston's antebellum period. Over 6,000 square feet, 28 Chapel is two and one-half floors atop a raised basement. A lovely iron double curving staircase gracefully rises to the main piazza and entry with a fanlight above and sidelights on either side of the front door. The main piazza is comprised of Doric fluted columns; the second floor has no piazza but the door also has a fanlight and sidelights. As expected, this door is not as large or as impressive as the main door below. The third floor also has a fanlight in the center of the pediment.

Monday, 29 October 2018 12:48

20 Charlotte Street - Joseph Aiken House

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This week we visit 20 Charlotte Street in Wraggborough, next door to last week’s post on 16 Charlotte Street built by merchant and planter Robert Martin. Martin built 20 Charlotte in 1848 for his daughter Ellen who married her second cousin, Joseph Aiken.

Monday, 22 October 2018 09:12

16 Charlotte Street - Robert Martin House

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16 Charlotte Street on the corner of Charlotte and East Bay Streets is an imposing structure that sold in 2016 for $4,950,000 million.

Just a few streets over from the Aiken-Rhett House on Elizabeth Street, 16 Charlotte is not quite as big a property, but is still extensive with the main three-story house alone over 9,000 square feet. There are two outbuildings in the rear, almost certainly dependency buildings; one outbuilding is 2,000 square feet with the other almost 3,500 square feet. We also see an Aiken family connection which tends to weave itself through the Wraggborough neighborhood.

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