Charleston, South Carolina
attracts visitors from across the country, and we’ve even seen an increase in international tourism in the past several years. One of the most popular things to do is walk through the historic districts of the downtown area (also called the Charleston Peninsula). Homes dating back to the 1700s line the streets of the peninsula (especially the southern end of the peninsula), and they have a classic architectural style of their own. Although some styles (like the Greek Revival style) are popular in the downtown Charleston historic districts
, you’ll see a lot of the classic “shotgun” style houses, which where developed specifically for Charleston’s downtown lot shapes that are narrow and extend deep from the street. We’ve included below some of the top historic homes in downtown Charleston to see for your next trip to Charleston:
1) The Battery on East Bay Street has the most photographed homes in the entire area. You’ll see these homes in books and various travel materials. We’ve included the Battery first because it really is a must see for visitors. It has a raised walkway with the historic homes on one side and the Charleston Harbor on the other. With the great views and constant breezes, the Battery is a great place to take a morning run, or just take a casual stroll with the family. At the end of the Battery you’ll find a nice park area with plenty of benches, too.
2) Rainbow Row is probably the second most photographed section of homes in Charleston. Rainbow Row gets its name from the colorful blue, yellow, and green town homes that line East Bay Street. Many of the homes downtown have classic Charleston colors – where else is it considered classic to have a pink home, after all? But, Rainbow Row is more colorful than the surrounding homes in this section of the peninsula. So, you’ll know when you get to them. And, they’re just down the road from the Battery, so it’s very easy to see both of these historic strips all within one walk.
3) The Edmondston-Alston house is one of the only Battery homes open to the public. So, unless you know someone who lives in one of these private residences, the Edmondston-Alston house may be your only chance to see inside one of these historic homes. It’s also a good example of the Greek Revival style that is so popular in the homes that were built around this time (around 1825). In the home there is also a good collection of historic documents, silver, and other antiques. And, if these things aren’t enough, you’ll get some great views of the Charleston Harbor!
4) The Aiken-Rhett house is the home of a former South Carolina governor, William Aiken, Jr. However, the house was built more than 150 years ago by another man. There has been little historical renovation to it, so the home remains much as it looked originally. You’ll find this home on Elizabeth Street in downtown Charleston.
5) The Thomas Elfe House is one of the oldest homes on this list. It was built in 1760 by Elfe, who was a famous cabinet maker in Charleston. You can see a lot of his woodworking in museums today, and there is some of his work on display in the home. This home doesn’t have the lavish furnishings and details of some other historic homes, but it’s still a great home in Charleston to see.
6) The Nathaniel Russell House dates back to 1808 and is known for its free-floating circular staircase that extends up through the middle of the home. It also has a small art collection on display. The Nathaniel Russell House is located on Meeting Street, so it has a great proximity to other Charleston sights.