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Diary of a Charleston Tour Guide

Diary of a Charleston Tour Guide

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

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.

Monday, 15 October 2018 09:07

48 Elizabeth Street | Aiken-Rhett House Part II

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We continue exploring the Aiken-Rhett House and outbuildings this week. This property is extensive, and Historic Charleston Foundation provides an excellent, user-friendly program for visitors to maneuver the main house, outbuildings and grounds.

As this is a museum house owned and operated by Historic Charleston Foundation, there is a $12.00 cost for adults; the cost is well worth the tour.

Monday, 08 October 2018 14:03

48 Elizabeth Street | Aiken-Rhett House Part I

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We will spend the next few posts visiting the area of Wraggborough, a section of Charleston which includes the Charleston Museum which we visited several weeks ago. The property of Wraggborough was owned and named for Joseph Wragg, the father of many children, each of which had a street in the section named for them. Wraggborough includes Elizabeth Street, Mary Street, Ann Street, Charlotte Street, Henrietta Street, Judith Street and John Street.

Monday, 01 October 2018 11:43

286 Calhoun Street | Jonathan Lucas House

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This is the third of three early 19th century houses nestled within the medical complex on the way to the Ashley River. We've explored the other houses in the last two posts. Again, we're in a marshy area close to the saw and rice mills located close to the Ashley River.

The Lucas House is not dwarfed by the surrounding tall, sterile medical buildings; instead, this house stands out as elegant and imposing...

Monday, 24 September 2018 12:38

268 Calhoun Street | Sebring-Aimar House

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268 Calhoun Street, an antebellum plantation-style house completed in 1846, was built by banker Edward Sebring. This striking Greek Revival building in the middle of the busy Medical University of South Carolina complex overlooked the Mill Pond across from what is now Calhoun Street. This was a marshy area in 1846 close to the saw mills. Sebring’s house was next door to the house we visited in last week’s post on 274 Calhoun Street.

Monday, 17 September 2018 10:59

274 Calhoun Street

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Several weeks ago we looked at the column ruins of 131 Rutledge Avenue, now known as Cannon Park and named after Daniel Cannon, an owner of saw mills near this area. In fact, the area was named “Cannonborough” after him.

Around the corner on Calhoun Street is 274 Calhoun Street, a two and one-half story cypress double house, built by Daniel Cannon for his daughter. He began construction in 1802; unfortunately, Cannon died not long after construction was started, and the house was finally completed in 1815.

Monday, 10 September 2018 12:45

60 Meeting Street

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We're going back down Meeting Street to visit 60 Meeting, a three-story, pre-Revolutionary house that is still a single-family residence. Fortunately, we have an easy way to determine what 60 Meeting originally looked like. Simply look at the pink house on the Tradd Street side of 60 Meeting, and you'll see what the house looked like when it was first constructed. I frequently point out this difference between the two structures on my walking tours, as it helps people understand how drastically a façade can change depending on the style.

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