Buying a Home on Rainbow Row: Charleston, SC

Posted by Lee and Katherine Keadle on Tuesday, May 16th, 2017 at 10:22am.

rainbow row charleston sc for sale

Rainbow Row is made up of Charleston’s most photographed and painted homes. These 14 row houses have addresses that span from 83 to 107 East Bay Street. Every year, literally thousands of visitors flock to see these famous homes located between Elliott and Tradd Streets. We’ve included below a brief history of this Charleston icon along with real estate info for these highly coveted homes.

The History of Rainbow Row is Less Glamorous Than You Might Expect

Most of the homes on Rainbow Row date back to the mid 1700’s (you’ll find dates ranging from 1717 to 1787). Merchants operated stores on the ground floor and lived in the second and third floors. The location – which was waterfront at the time) – made these buildings an ideal commerce center for the wharf. After the Civil War, the buildings fell into disrepair and were considered slums by local Charlestonians.

In the 1920’s, Susan Pringle Frost bought six of the row homes in the hopes of restoring them (you might recognize her name because she helped establish the Preservation Society of Charleston). However, she didn’t have the financial means to renovate them. Several years later, Judge Lionel Legge and his wife, Dorothy Porcher Legge, purchased the buildings. Dorothy had them painted in pastel colors to resemble the Colonial architecture found in the Caribbean. Soon afterwards, the neighbors followed suit and added their own pastels to the mix creating a “rainbow” of colors. So, it wasn’t until the 1930’s that the homes got their colorful exteriors.

Real Estate on Rainbow Row

Today, Rainbow Row is prime real estate in Charleston. Because only 14 homes make up Rainbow Row, these listings rarely come up for sale. You’ll find that a couple of these townhouse setups have been converted by floor into condos, but most remain intact as 3 story townhouses (also called row houses). A typical row house is made up of roughly 4 bedrooms, 3 full baths, and somewhere between 2,800 and 4,000 square feet. Recent sales prices have ranged from $1.5 to $4 million. Some of these properties have unexpected features like carriage houses in the back, roof top decks with views of the Harbor, spacious courtyards, and garage parking for up to two cars (some homeowners have converted this parking space for additional square footage). Buyers are often surprised how large these homes are considering they look like standard townhouses from the front.

Other than homes on the Battery, you won’t find a more coveted piece of real estate South of Broad. In Charleston, Rainbow Row is featured on a wide range of touristy items from shirts to kitchen towels, serving plates, Christmas ornaments, fine art prints, and more. In addition to being a local icon, Rainbow Row has an ideal location just steps away from the Charleston Harbor. Residents can take a walk along the Battery and White Point Gardens, visit 30+ art galleries, browse the Gibbes Museum of Art, enjoy Waterfront Park, tour historic sites, go shopping, or dine at some of the finest restaurants in Charleston such as McCrady’s, Oak Steakhouse, or High Cotton. The entertainment options within walking distance of Rainbow Row are endless.

Interested in Buying a Home in Downtown Charleston?

Whether you’re looking for a great Downtown Charleston location with walkability, a historic property, a second home, or a low maintenance condo, we can help! Contact The Keadle Group so that we can help find your dream home in Charleston!


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