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Tag: historic preservation

5 Distinguishing Features of a Charleston Single House

Charleston Single Houses

photo credit: Instagram user @tara_kaminski

If you’re a long-time Charlestonian, chances are you’ve lived in a Charleston single house at some point in your life.  Many visitors have come away remembering this iconic Charleston architecture.  Charleston singles are, after all, common throughout the peninsula and beyond. From the mansions South of Broad to modest neighborhoods extending past the crosstown, the Charleston single is part of the city’s makeup and charm.

So what makes up a Charleston single house?  Several things, like its long, narrow shape, distinguish the style from others, while the somewhat private porch is often the most favored feature of all. Of course, there’s rhyme and reason to its design, mainly relating to local conditions — namely the city’s hot and humid summers. Yes, even centuries ago, Charleston was known for being muggy on summer days and sultry in the evenings!

Here are a few of the features you’ll find in a Charleston single house and reasons behind their particular design:

Charleston Single House

photo credit: Instagram user @beauclowneyarchitects

1. Long, narrow shape

In order to build a single house, you need only a long, narrow lot, which is how the city was laid out in its early days. The tall, slender homes are typically placed quite closely to the neighboring home, perhaps too close for comfort in some cases. The single house has a narrow side, with the long side of the house – the traditional “front”  – being perpendicular to the street. The plain, short facade is what faces the street.

2. Width

While the house is long and narrow,  it is also only one room wide, when viewed from the street — which gives the single house its name!  But what the home lacks in width it makes up for in length and height. As mentioned before, the house is quite long, while many Charleston single houses are also several tiers high.

Charleston Singles House

photo credit: Instagram user @dtnash

3. The Front Door

What may appear to be a front door — the one facing the street — is only an entrance to the private porch. The actual front door is down the middle of the porch. This was intended to give more privacy to the homeowners during the more modest Victorian period.

4. Interior Layout

Though the architectural form of the single house comes in everything from Federal to Victorian styles, the most consistent feature will always be its interior layout. A front door along the long side of the house leads you into a foyer and stairwell, and there’s a room to the left, usually a bedroom, and to the right — which normally serves as the living room, with the kitchen being on the other side of the living room — an open archway separating the two. The same floor plan is generally repeated upstairs.

photo credit: Instagram user @sweetteaheather

The Porch

Single houses have side porches — oops, pardon, I mean piazzas. Accessible via the aforementioned door on the street-side of the house, the piazza is strategically placed on the long side of the house to increase the odds of catching a cool breeze— definitely a factor to consider in a city that gets so hot and muggy during summers. They are also a pretty sweet spot to enjoy a cup of tea or an afternoon snooze!

Screen Shot 2017-02-21 at 4.41.18 PM

photo credit: Instagram user @asmantiques_charleston_sc

If you are looking for a Charleston single to call your own, stop by The Real Estate Studio where our experienced, professional agents are always here to answer questions or show property.

10 Questions with Susan Rae Epstein

Susan Epstein

10 Questions with Susan Rae Epstein, Fall Tours Manager at The Preservation Society of Charleston

We ask the same 10 questions to very different members of Charleston’s diverse community. This week, meet Susan Rae Epstein, fall tours manager at the Preservation Society of Charleston.

 1.  If you’re not from Charleston originally, where are you from and when did you relocate here?

I am not a Charlestonian but my mother is. I grew up in Spartanburg in a small community called Boiling Springs. I attended 1st through 12th grade there and then went away to Clemson University, where I earned a degree in Plant Sciences / Horticulture in 1979. After graduation, I married my college sweetheart and we moved to Charleston. Since my mother was from Charleston, I still had a lot of family here so it was like coming home. We moved into a house on Wappoo Drive in Riverland Terrace and from there to Rockville. After I became pregnant, we moved back to Riverland Terrace and then West Ashley, where we live now.

2.  Did you go to college, and if so, where?

Clemson University

3.  Occupation, employer, and what your role entails?

I work as the Tours Manager for the Preservation Society of Charleston. My primary job responsibility is to organize the Fall Tours for PSC, which is our biggest annual fundraiser. Other responsibilities include organizing smaller and more focused private tours for organizations or clubs as well as helping out wherever I can.

4.  How does your company and/or your role affect the community.

One of the primary goals of the Fall Tours is to enlighten and educate our guests about the history, architecture, and the preservation of Charleston. As the oldest member-based preservation organization, it is our mission and our duty.

5.  Favorite part of your job?

The favorite part of my job is to be an ambassador for Charleston in many ways. In one regard, I represent the homeowners and it is an honor to meet them, be able to visit and hear the wonderful stories of these houses. The homeowners of Charleston are very gracious and generous stewards. They understand preservation and what it takes to care for the houses but also the city. The Monday following Hurricane Matthew, we were checking in with the owners to inquire if they were able to include their property on the upcoming tours and out of 90 properties, we only lost 4 due to damage. That says a lot about the dedication and commitment they make. It is also a privilege to work with the more than 300 volunteers it takes to run the Fall Tours. We are so very grateful to them and the many hours they give to make the tours a success. Plus the time they take to learn the history of the houses, neighborhoods, and the city. Last, I want the guest to have the best experience ever and want to return.

6.  What area of Charleston do you live in and why do you love it?

West Ashley. My husband, David, and I are fortunate in that we have an older property but not as old as most on the peninsula. Our house was built in 1934 and we have 2 acres with most of it being cultivated as a large ornamental garden. I can be anywhere in a matter of minutes and am spoiled with my short commute into town.

7.  Who’s your most-loved local venue/cultural excursion and why?

As far as my favorite local excursion, it is probably anywhere I can ride my bike. Whether it is the Coastal Cyclist Saturday James Island to Folly Beach ride, ride around the peninsula, or over to Mt. Pleasant, I love it. We are not even close but one day, Charleston will be a world-class cycling city!

8.  What’s your go-to local dining or takeout spot, and what do you like to order?

I am a creature of habit and love Cobb salads. My favorite is from Fleet Landing. The view is fabulous as well.

9.  Favorite Charleston day-trip destination?

My favorite day trip right now is Brookgreen Gardens at Murrell’s Inlet. I love the rich horticultural history of the plantations as well as the beautiful love story of Anna Hyatt Huntington and Archer Huntington. They did so much to preserve Brookgreen, support the arts at a difficult time, and care and educate the people who worked for the plantation. The plantings are of great interest anytime of the year and the sculpture collection is one of the best in the country, if not world.

10.  If you could live anywhere in the world other than the Lowcountry, where would that be?

If I could live anywhere in the world, I wouldn’t go too far. My family and friends are all here or in the Southeast. I am a mountain girl at heart and would love to live part time at Lake Lure. I spent so much time there as a child plus we took family vacations there are our children were growing up.

Efforts to Preserve Charleston Win National Recognition (Again)

The National Trust for Historic Preservation presented its Preservation Honor Award to the Historic Charleston Foundation for work in developing the Charleston Preservation Plan.

Charleston, founded in 1670 and South Carolina’s first city, passed the nation’s first historic preservation ordinance in 1931. The award cites work on an updated plan to govern future preservation.

According the The State, “The plan was developed after a year of work including 11 focus groups and a citizen’s advisory committee as well as 33 workshops and meetings that generated 1,500 public comments. The city council then approved it unanimously.”

~ Mary A. Sicard