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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, 30 October 2017 09:10

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 09:10

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 11:08

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 08:49

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 09:58

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 13:34

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 14:16

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 09:53

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...

Tuesday, 29 August 2017 16:19

21 King Street - The Patrick O'Donnell House

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From 8 Legare Street (last week’s post), we’ll proceed south and take a left on Lamboll Street, and another left on King Street.  21 King Street is the second house on your left after the corner. Or you could just look for the largest, tallest, most ornate house within sight - that would be 21 King.

Patrick O’Donnell, the Irish contractor mentioned in last week’s post, built this house for his fiancée. O’Donnell chose the ornate Italianate style for their home, and he surely wanted everything to be as perfect as possible for her – it took him approximately twelve years to complete...

Tuesday, 22 August 2017 09:21

8 Legare Street

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Continuing on Legare Street, we’ll stop at Number 8, a house that resonates with Charleston history.

Built in 1857, 8 Legare was first owned by Charlestonian Cleland Kinloch Huger (pronounced “U-gee”).  Patrick O’Donnell, an Irish immigrant, was the contractor for this imposing structure which was built in the Italianate style.  Here we are greeted by another pair of grand gateposts with a wrought iron gate. This gate with the elongated harps is thought to be...

Thursday, 17 August 2017 12:16

14 Legare Street - The Pineapple Gates House

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As we continue up Legare Street, we will stop at Number 14, known as the Simmons-Edwards House, but more famous for its “Pineapple Gates.”

Francis Simmons built 14 Legare Street around 1800. The brick single house, made taller due to the raised basement, is a good example of the Federal style of architecture.  Federal style was born out of and is similar to...

Tuesday, 08 August 2017 10:31

32 Legare Street - The Sword Gate House

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We know a wall existed in 1818; over the ensuing years, the house has been modified and enhanced several times. The garden is a treat, and sometimes is open to the public during fall or spring tours. And, if you've got money, 32 Legare is currently on the market - for $19.5 million...

No matter who buys it, 32 Legare will forever be associated with...

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