Rainbow Row Part II - The Pinckney Connection


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.

95 East Bay was originally built as one of Beale's rental properties, but because it is most associated with one of the influential families of early Charles Town, it is sometimes called the "Beale-Pinckney House." 95 East Bay was owned at one time by Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, one of Charles Town's prominent citizens in the 18th century. Pinckney was the son of Charles and Eliza Lucas Pinckney. Eliza Lucas came here around 1738, and her family had various plantations in the area. By experimenting with seeds sent to her by her father, who at the time was the governor of Antigua, she became the first person to successfully grow indigo in Carolina. The British loved the blue dye produced from the plant, and it was much cheaper for them to purchase indigo from the American colonies than from the Far East.

Eliza married Charles Pinckney, and together they founded the Pinckney "dynasty" here in Charles Town. Charles was much older than Eliza, and he died in 1758. Their children were integrally involved in the life of our new nation. Their sons, General Charles Cotesworth Pinckney and General Thomas Pinckney, fought in the American Revolution. After the war, Thomas served as the United States Minister to Spain; he was later governor of South Carolina. Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, the later owner of 95 East Bay Street, was one of the signers of the Constitution of the United States. He also served as United States Minister to France. Eliza and her daughter Harriott Pinckney Horry entertained President George Washington at Hampton Plantation near Georgetown, SC during Washington's Southern Tour in 1791. Two years later, Eliza died, and President Washington served as one of the pallbearers at her funeral. (Supposedly, he asked to be one of her pallbearers.) 

95 East Bay stands tall as part of Rainbow Row. It also stands as a reminder of how our city, state, and nation were shaped by our early citizens, especially the Pinckneys.

Next week, we'll look at some other Rainbow Row houses and their stories.