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Charleston Architecture 101

Charleston Architecture 101

Charleston exists as one of North America’s most architecturally significant destinations. Called the Holy City, a nod to the many church steeples that dominate the city skyline, Charleston is a preservationist’s muse with three centuries of well-preserved history on display at every turn. The details of this architecturally rich city reveal themselves when the peninsula’s sidewalks and seawalls are explored on foot, so scroll on and get ready to #ExploreCharleston!

Take a stroll through Charleston's famed Historic District and "ooh" and "aah" over the area's beautiful antebellum mansions and exquisite wrought-iron gates.

Built in 1808, this home is widely recognized as one of America’s more important neoclassical dwellings. The interior is adorned with elaborate plaster ornamentation and a stunning free-flying staircase. Be sure to check out the joggling board in the formal gardens - this is a uniquely Charleston invention.

Completed in 1761, this is the oldest church edifice in the city and one of the few city churches in America to retain its original design. It was here that George Washington worshipped during his tour of the South in 1791.

Widely considered the finest example of Georgian Palladian architecture in North America, Drayton Hall is certainly one of the Lowcountry’s greatest architectural treasures. Untouched by fad or fashion, the house museum stands as an example of meticulous preservation and has neither running water nor electricity.

Admire a long line of historic homes that sit along The Battery, including the Edmondston-Alston House. This stunning mansion offers a sweeping view of Charleston’s historic harbor. It was from the piazza that General P. T. Beauregard watched the bombardment of Fort Sumter, which signaled the start of the Civil War.

Along with Dock Street Theatre and the French Huguenot Church, Church Street is also home to St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, which was constructed in 1835-1838. In St. Philip’s churchyard are the graves of John C. Calhoun, Secretary of War and Vice President of the United States; Edward Rutledge, signer of the Declaration of Independence; Charles Pinckney, signer of the Constitution; and Dubose Heyward, author of “Porgy.”

This Gilded Age mansion-turned-inn features 21 beautiful rooms, each equipped with a king bed, a whirlpool and a fireplace. A tribute to Charleston grandeur, the Wentworth Mansion offers personalized service and gracious hospitality.

As early as 1687, French Huguenots, fleeing France to avoid religious persecution, worshipped in a church on this site. The fourth church at this location was built in 1844-45 and was designed by Edward B. White.

The Gibbes Museum of Art houses more than 10,000 works of southern art. Since 1858, the Gibbes Museum has hosted exhibitions with a regional connection, while its permanent collection includes many pieces of merit from the 1915 to 1940 Charleston Renaissance.

The fine arts community has thrived in Charleston since 1736 with the completion of the Dock Street Theatre, the nation’s first permanent playhouse. The theatre now plays host to the destination’s finest cultural institutions, including Spoleto Festival USA.

Have you ever seen a larger-than-life-sized pineapple? Pop over to Waterfront Park to see one of our favorite structures. P.S. Did you know the pineapple is a symbol of hospitality?

In 1932, homeowner Dorothy Porcher Legge dreamed up an idea to beautify her street: fresh coats of paint in a variety of Caribbean colors. The first home to receive a pastel-hued facelift belonged to Legge, who gave 99 – 101 East Bay Street a pretty pink façade. Each of the neighboring homes soon embraced a signature color, including shades of yellow, green and blue.

The nation’s premier example of an urban plantation, this circa 1818 double house was erected by one of the state’s wealthiest citizens and encompasses nearly an entire city block.