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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, 23 April 2018 11:29

The Four Corners of Law: City Hall Part I

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Over the next several weeks, we will concentrate on exploring the "Four Corners of Law" at the corners of Broad and Meeting Streets. Some things happen by accident but are meant to be - the Four Corners is one such example. The most important public square in Charleston evolved over two centuries, and no one recognized it as the Four Corners of Law until Robert Ripley of Ripley's Believe It or Not! visited Charleston in the first part of the twentieth century and immediately named the public square as such regarding City Hall (City Law), the State House (State Law), the Federal Post Office and Judiciary System (Federal Law) and St. Michael's Episcopal Church (God's Law).

Monday, 16 April 2018 10:23

321 East Bay Street: Blake-Grimke House

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Today we visit the Blake-Grimke House at 321 East Bay.  Currently a law office, this house retains the spirit of illustrious inhabitants.Today we visit the Blake-Grimke House at 321 East Bay.  Currently a law office, this house retains the spirit of illustrious inhabitants.

Before 1789, William Blake, a planter who owned land in both South Carolina and England, built this impressive house on the edge of Ansonborough...

Monday, 09 April 2018 10:30

66 Anson Street

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The Chazal family purchased the land at 66 Anson Street in 1823 for $1.00. Walking by this property today, I believe we would all agree that the Chazals got a great deal! Of course, the house still had to be built and was finally constructed in 1839. Perhaps the family felt it was a good time to build with all the surrounding construction after the fire of 1838.

Monday, 02 April 2018 09:13

72 Anson Street - Benjamin Simons Neufville House

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72 Anson Street dates from 1846, replacing the first house on this lot, which was destroyed by the 1838 fire that burnt much of Ansonborough. If you drive down Anson Street today, 72 Anson is the single house with the red door. Instead of a front door view, I chose to use my recent photograph that shows the side of the house with its white piazza peeking through the white blooms of a magnificent dogwood in the expansive garden. Spring is here!

Monday, 26 March 2018 10:39

75 Anson Street - Joseph Legare House

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Laurens Street ends in front of 75 Anson Street. This house was built around 1800 by Joseph Legare, whose father owned the property next door at 79 Anson Street.

Legare, pronounced "Luh-gree," is an old Charleston name. It is my understanding that the first Legare immigrated here in the late 17th century. While the Legare ancestry is French and is associated with the Huguenots escaping persecution in France, the early Legares seem to have been members, not of the Huguenot Church on Queen Street, but of the Circular Congregational Church on Meeting Street. Both Joseph Legare and his father, Daniel Legare, are buried there.

Monday, 19 March 2018 09:24

57 Laurens Street - Taft House

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Still wandering around Ansonborough, this week we explore 57 Laurens Street, built around 1836 in the Greek Revival style. Two years after this house was built, the fire of 1838 wiped out most of the Ansonborough houses; fortunately, 57 Laurens and several of the homes around it escaped the blaze.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018 09:49

55 Laurens Street - James Jervey House

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Another structure to escape the fire of 1838 in Ansonborough is 55 Laurens Street. Fortunately, Laurens Street is on the north side of Ansonborough, and most of this area was not affected by that fire.

Built in 1818 by James Jervey, this imposing brick mansion retains much of its Federal style ornamentation inside; the exterior brick is laid in Flemish bond (alternating header and stretcher on each row). 55 Laurens is a large double house with a raised basement; the original kitchen building and another dependency building are located on the rear portion of the lot. From the outside, you would never guess that the building is now made up of condominiums and has been sin e the 1980s. In any event, walking among the primarily single houses on this street, 55 Laurens certainly stands out and makes a statement. The house is also reflective of the owner's prominence in the community.

Monday, 05 March 2018 09:36

82 Anson Street

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The house at 82 Anson Street in Ansonborough is one of the few buildings that escaped the 1838 fire that destroyed many of the structures in this area. This house was built about 1799, and the interior retains its original Federal style features.

A wealthy merchant with his home on Meeting Street, Josiah Smith built this hosue for his daughter Mary Smith. Mary never married; she died in 1832 and left the property to her nieces and nephews. The house remained in the family until a few years after the Civil War.

Monday, 26 February 2018 13:52

Ansonborough: A Great Experiment

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We'll explore Ansonborough, the first suburb of Charles Town, for the next few weeks. For an easy reference of what this area covers today, picture yourself on East Bay Street, the east boundary, in front of the Harris Teeter grocery store and consider several streets north to Calhoun Street, several streets south to Hasell Street with the west boundary as Anson Street. Now you've got a snapshot of the area of Ansonborough, somewhat expanded from its original acreage.

Monday, 19 February 2018 08:50

Rainbow Row Part III - The Susan Pringle Frost Connection

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Completing our exploration of Rainbow Row (79 East Bay at the corner of East Bay and Tradd Streets to 107 East Bay), we'll stop at 83 and 87 East Bay Street, both of which buildings have a connection to Susan Pringle Frost, founder of the Preservation Society of Charleston in 1920. Frost, who could trace her Charleston roots back to the early years of the settlement, was a court stenographer for many years. She was also a suffragette with a passion for saving Charleston's historic architecture. Being the first woman realtor in Charleston, Frost was in a unique position to realize that passion.

Monday, 12 February 2018 13:44

Rainbow Row Part II - The Pinckney Connection

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Continuing our exploration of Rainbow Row (79 East Bay at the corner of East Bay and Tradd Streets to 107 East Bay), today we'll stop at 95 East Bay Street. 95 East Bay was built around 1741 by Colonel Othniel Beale, whose residence I wrote about last week.

It's easy to point out Rainbow Row by the curved or Dutch-gabled roof of 95 East Bay, which stands out like a beacon among the rooftops of this row. The house has been renovated, yet retains fine Georgian interior elements. Like the others on this row, the landscaped garden behind the house is long and narrow.

Monday, 05 February 2018 11:31

Rainbow Row Part I - Othniel Beale House

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Mention "Rainbow Row" and most people know you're talking about Charleston. This colorful row of early structures extends from 79 East Bay Street at the corner of East Bay and Tradd to 107 East Bay. On my bus and walking tours, Rainbow Row is the one part of the city that everyone wants to see. The next few posts will concentrate on several of the Rainbow Row houses.

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