The Pink House at 17 Chalmers Street is a rarity in Charleston for a number of reasons. It is one of few buildings left that still bears a siding of Bermuda Stone, a soft coral material that was cheaply mined for simple construction in the colonial period. Bermuda stones were relatively soft and could be cut into large slabs that made building very simple, as well as virtually impervious to fire and earthquake. The tiny building, measuring only 13 x 13 in its original footprint, was built at the turn of the 18th century as a tavern along a small alley inside the early walled city, where it was a hangout for sailors and dockworkers, who “tippled” with ale and Madeira before wandering into nearby brothels. Known initially by the name of owners such as John Breton, the structure was soon nicknamed the Pink House as a result of the pastel hue that its stone walls gave off after long exposure to air. Bermuda stone fell out of favor as a building material, and with the development of more skilled artisans in old Charleston, stylish wooden weatherboarding, brick and stucco became the fashion for exteriors.
The old building is also notable for its high-pitched, clay-tiled Gambrel roof, of which there aren’t many in Charleston. This method of roofing that originated with the Dutch is created to give more headroom on the top floor, which in the Pink House is the third story, as well as allow smoke from the interior fireplaces to dissipate without hindrance of overhanging eaves.
The Pink House has seen major changes along Chalmers Alley, which was widened in 1815 to its present width as Chalmers Street. Livery stables next door have given way to parking lots, and down the street at Ryan’s Mart, tourists now come and go freely where slaves were once auctioned. The colorful name of the structure has been enhanced in modern times with coats of pink pastel paint, which now serve to distinguish a chic art gallery. This once-rugged city sector of drunken sailors and slave sales is today known as the fashionable French Quarter, a name created in 1973 to protect the historic area from development. The Pink House has been added to with a rear section that features more art work today, but the low ceilings and open hearth fireplaces still capture the feel of yesterday.
Take a step back in time. Take a trip to Charles Towne Landing located in the West Ashley area of greater Charleston. The original city founded in 1670. Spend the day and visit the zoo, the ship, interactive museum, tour dig sites and much, much more!
1.The Market: Formerly known as Market Hall and Sheds, this open-air venue makes room for local vendors and shoppers. It is the perfect location to get a taste of Charleston culture, and enjoy an outdoor arena.
2.Ravenel Bridge: The largest cable-supported bridge in America offers a 12-foot gated walking path overlooking the Cooper River and harbors. The bridge satisfies runners, walkers, bikers and those who simply want a breathtaking view.
3.The Battery: Built in 1837, this stretch of land along the Charleston Peninsula is home to dozens of antebellum homes. It serves as an historic site of the Civil War due to its location. Fort Sumter, U.S.S. Yorktown, Fort Moultrie and Sullivan’s Island can all be seen while strolling through the upscale neighborhood.
4.Waterfront Park: Located downtown, the park entertains hundreds each day. Children can be found playing on an outdoor water pad, families picnicking under the shade of 200-year-old oak tress, or couples on large swings that overlook the Cooper River.
5.Church Tours: The Holy City earns its nickname due to a skyline spotted by church steeples. The First Baptist Church of Charleston dates back to 1682, and has remained a central site to Charleston over the centuries. Like the Baptist Church, dozens of similar churches educate those fascinated by the traditional Charleston architecture.
6.Angel Oak: Located on John’s Island, this live oak is estimated to be over 1400 years old. Folklore claims the tree to be home to spirits of deceased slaves who gather around the 65-foot tall tree.
7.Art Galleries: Many galleries in the area truly emulate what Charleston culture is all about. Window-shopping in the stores can introduce even the un-trained eye to the beauty of the city through the perspective of a local artist.
8.Gateway Garden Walk: An idea created in 1930 by the Charleston Garden, the walk connects four blocks in historic downtown. The stroll invites walkers into secret, hidden gardens, which are surrounded by oak trees above.
9.Rainbow Row: This section of East Bay Street earns its name from a row of brightly colored, pastel homes. The homes are said to have helped ease the devastation post-Civil War by creating a friendly Caribbean-like atmosphere.
10.Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse: Also known as “Charleston Light”, the lighthouse can be seen 26 miles out to sea. It was first lit in 1962 and continues to serve as a geographic point for many sailors.
Any time of year is worth a visit to Charleston gardens, and one of the best is at Magnolia Plantation on highway 61. The main gardens were created in the 1700's from old rice fields and are interlaced with ponds and walking bridges overlooking banks of flowers and flocks of ducks and swans. On the other side of the property is the Audubon Swamp Garden, an extensive cypress swamp with wlaking trails past giant trees and wild blooms, as well as a myriad of colorful wildlife that abounds in the swamp environement.
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