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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, or stories of the people living right here in our city today, or simply looking for things to do, places to eat, 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, 27 November 2017 14:24

102 Tradd Street - Another Grimke-Fraser House

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At 102 Tradd Street, the two-story wooden house built around 1760, we again meet the Grimke and Fraser families. The first time we ran into them was at 55 King Street, the Grimke-Fraser tenements built around 1762 and later used by artist Charles Fraser as his residence.

Originally owned by Frederick Grimke, who built the tenements at 55 King, 102 Tradd became the home of the Frasers; Grimke's daughter Mary married Alexander Fraser and they lived here with their children. One of their sons, Frederick, scratched part of his name...

Monday, 20 November 2017 14:59

106 Tradd Street - The John Stuart House

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106 Tradd is a single house -- but one with a difference. Yes, it's still one room wide, but it is one of the few early residences built with a side hall. As you can see, the front door is not a false door leading to a piazza. This front door opens into the side hall. The typical single house built before 1800 had its main doorway on the side, usually in the center.

The house at 106 Tradd Street was built around 1772 by Colonel John Stuart. Stuart, originally from Scotland, became an important man in Charles Town before the American Revolution; in 1762, he was appointed the King's superintendent...

Monday, 13 November 2017 14:42

126 Tradd Street

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As we continue exploring Tradd Street, we’ll visit number 126 (next door to the Humphrey Sommers House we visited last week), which was built around 1732 by Alexander Smith. In 1790, Dr. Peter Fayssoux and his wife Ann became owners of the property. Dr. Fayssoux, born in Charles Town, was of French Huguenot heritage; he was one of many Huguenots in Charles Town who rose to prominence and served his city and community well.

Monday, 06 November 2017 14:05

128 Tradd Street

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Tradd Street spans the width of the peninsula; if there weren't any houses, you could probably stand in the center and see the Ashley River at one end and the Cooper River at the other end. Seeing 128 Tradd and the surrounding area today, it is difficult to imagine that when the house was built in 1765, it would have overlooked a creek and the marshes of the Ashley River.

Monday, 30 October 2017 13:10

4 Logan Street

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4 Logan Street is the grand antebellum house between Tradd and Broad Streets. (The Latin "ante bellum" means "before the war"; in Charleston and throughout the South, the word antebellum specifically refers to the period before the Civil War.) Built in 1852, 4 Logan survived the last great Charleston fire in December 1861, which ravaged Charleston almost a year to the date of South Carolina's secession from the Union on December 20, 1860.

Thursday, 19 October 2017 13:10

69 Meeting Street

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69 Meeting Street is one of my favorite houses in Charleston. Dr. John Poyas built this rather grand single house (one room wide, two rooms deep) on a large double lot around 1800.

The house commands our attention for several reasons. First, it stands alone with no close neighbor to the north except...

Thursday, 12 October 2017 15:08

The Powder Magazine

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Built in 1712, the Powder Magazine located at 21 Cumberland Street is the oldest public building still surviving in Charleston. It is also, in my opinion, the most medieval-looking building in Charleston -- a relatively small, thick, stuccoed building with a vaulted roof of pan tiles.

One look at the Powder Magazine and I am transported to an earlier age when Charles Town was one of three walled cities in North America...

Thursday, 05 October 2017 12:49

54 Hasell Street - Colonel William Rhett House

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54 Hasell Street is perhaps the oldest residence in Charleston – by that I mean the oldest building built specifically as a residence (instead of later being used as one), dating from 1712.  At the time this house was built, it was “in the country”. Colonel William Rhett (and, yes, if Rhett Butler had been real, Col. Rhett would have been “his people”) purchased property outside of the original walled city, about 2 blocks north of Major Daniels’ Creek where the City Market is now situated.  Rhett called his new property of about 30 acres “Rhettsbury”.

Thursday, 28 September 2017 13:58

17 Chalmers Street - The Pink House

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17 Chalmers Street is known as the Pink House primarily because...it's pink.

The Pink House is a favorite of artists, photographers, and visitors for several reasons. First is the color. Second is the wonderful gambrel tile roof. Third is the unusual shape when viewed from the left corner side; instead of being blocked by a house on the left, there is a parking lot. Fourth is the fact that the street in front is paved with cobblestones. All of which adds up to extremely and undeniably picturesque.

Thursday, 21 September 2017 17:34

The John Lining House at 106 Broad Street

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The next few posts will concentrate on several of our oldest buildings in Charleston, and we will begin with the John Lining House at 106 Broad Street, on the northwest corner of King and Broad Streets. Immediately outside of the original walled city, the Lining House was constructed before 1715. We don't know how long before 1715, but we do have documentation that the dwelling existed in that year.

Friday, 15 September 2017 18:16

55 King Street - Charles Fraser House

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This week we focus on 55 King Street, built around 1762 by a German immigrant Frederick Grimke. Grimke originally built this structure as a double tenement, and it has since been converted to a single-family residence.

This colonial-style brick house was built on a large lot that Grimke purchased in the 1740s. The house would have been divided in the middle of the six windowsin front with a large grate at the bottom outside corner of each tenement.

Notice that the brick is laid in the design called "Flemish Bond," which is comprised of alternating...

Wednesday, 06 September 2017 13:53

27 King Street - The Miles Brewton House

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This week we'll take a few steps up King Street to the Miles Brewton House at 27 King. After the high Italianate ornamentation we saw at 21 King Street in the last post, we run into the clean and harmonious lines of one of the finest examples of Georgian architecture in the Southeast at 27 King.

Built around 1769, the Miles Brewton House has no need of exterior ornate decoration to catch the eye of the serious tourist or the casual dog-walker. There is an air of refinement that...

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