August 28, 2018

Discovering East Bay Street’s Rainbow Row

In a city distinguished by many sites to see, the Rainbow Row of 13 homes on East Bay Street is one of the most interesting parts of Charleston. The pastel paint on the homes, accented by modern outdoor lanterns, make the west side of East Bay Street, between Tradd Street and Elliot Street one of the most popular go-to locations for tourists.

Why Rainbow Colors Rock East Bay Street

The homes did not start out as the colorful pieces of history they are today. Dating from 1740 when life was more monochromatic and functional, the 13 homes from 83 to 107 Easy Bay Street were built by merchants who had stores on the first floor and lived on upper floors with their families. Having one place to live and work offered convenience to shop owners who eliminated their commute by foot.

While the area remained prosperous, it deteriorated into a slum after the Civil War. By the 1920s, the homes were recognized for their potential historic value and Susan Pringle Frost, women’s activist, real estate agent, and founder of the Society for the Presentation of Old Buildings, bought a block of six of them but was unable to put the money into immediate restoration. In 1931, Dorothy Haskell Porcher Legge purchased a block of houses number 99 through 101 East Bay and immediately started renovation. to cap off your efforts, she painted them pink to create a Caribbean color scheme.

By the mid-1940s, existing and subsequent owners picked up her cues and painted their properties of rainbow of pastel colors. The reason for the distinctive color choices has generated considerable historical speculation. Some versions have them painted in bright colors to direct drunken sailors home from sea to the place where they were supposed to bunk. Other stories maintain that the color Identified the buildings for illiterate slaves sent on shopping missions, but the painting frenzy occurred long after slavery cease to officially exist. The color choice may even have been a marketing tool to identify what was sold there. A more practical theory suggests that owners may have painted the exterior of their homes in hot Charleston in colors that might lower the internal temperature of the building. The different colors give the neighborhood a unique vibe

The Homes Of Rainbow Row

In addition to the color, each property a lot bay street has an interesting history of its own. Many homes retain the name of early owners.

79-81 East Bay Street[

On the northwest corner of Tradd Street and East Bay, two buildings, one dating from 1845 and the other between 1778-1785 after a fire, form a structure numbered 79-81 East Bay street. The part of the building constructed in 1845 is the most recent new construction.

83 East Bay Street

Located at 83 East Bay Street, the William Stone House replace an early structure destroyed by fire. The current building was originally built in 1784 by a Tory merchant who returned to England during the Revolutionary War. In 1941, preservationist Susan Pringle Frost restored the home as a residence and added a neo classical balcony to the front and replaced the storefront a Colonial Revival style door.

85 East Bay Street

Build during the American Revolution, the house at 85 East Bay Street was originally a combination dwelling and storefront, with a ship chandlery being on the first floor. The inside of the home has Chinese Chippindale details. The property was the last one purchased for restoration in 1944 when Louise Graves Purchased it after many years of vacancy.

87 East Bay Street

In 1792, Scottish merchant James Gordon build a home at 87 East Bay Street on the site of a building previously destroyed by fire. The 4-story building was purchased by Susan Pringle Frost for restoration in 1920. While the house still has its original windows and stucco, she added a balcony to the front of the house before selling it in 1955.

89 East Bay Street

The Deas-Tunno House at 89 East Bay Street was built around 1770 as a commercial property with residential space above. unlike most neighboring homes, it features a side yard that separates the property from the adjacent house so. It also features a garage and a garden screened by a wall with a balustrade

91 East Bay Street

Although its original construction date is unknown, building at 91 East Bay Street Was bought by merchants Peter Leger and William Greenwood in 1778 and then Nathaniel Russell, a merchant from Rhode Island, in 1793. While ownership and property use changed over the years gone but in 1920, Susan Pringle Frost bought it and sold it to John McGowan in 1941. McGowan removed Greek Revival details added in the 19th century while adding details such as large arched porch doors on the first floor and roof line.

93 East Bay Street

Built around 1778, the James Cook House had commercial uses on the first floor with the residence above. Later restorations added the kitchen and dining room for the first floor plus a library and drawing room on the second floor.

95 East Bay Street

Who built the home at 95 East Bay Street is unknown, but similarities in style to neighboring houses at 97 and 99- 101 East Bay St suggest that it might have been Othniel Beale. By 1789, the house is was converted to commercial use, but later new entrances and smaller windows were built to replace the storefront window that had been added. Playwright John McGowan we started the home in 1938

97 and 99-101 East Bay Street

The property at 97 and 91-101 bought by Othniel Beale between 1741 and 1748 was a site of a brick store and a multi-building which shared a roof, party wall, and decorative elements. Ownership and usage fluctuated until 1936 when Susan Pringle Frost bought 97 East Bay, restored it, and resold it in 1936. Meanwhile, Judge Leon K. Legge and Dorothy Legge purchased 99-101 East Bay Street in 1931 and became the first owners to complete restoration. Mrs. Legge received awards from the Preservation Society of Charleston for ground breaking restoration work. You can view detailed plans of the house produced for the American historic building survey here.

103 East Bay Street

Built by an Ancestor of leaders Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, the Joseph Dulles house was built in 1787 and later restored in the 1930s by Anna Wells Rutledge and architect Simons and Lapham.

105 East Bay Street

Built by Lewis Dutarque Between 1788 and 1884, the Dutarque-Guida House was sold to Giovanni Domenico Guida who installed a Victorian storefront on the building that displays his name. When Anne Wells Rutledge purchased the building in 1970, she kept the storefront, so the building remains the only one on Rainbow Row with a Victorian storefront.

107 East Bay Street

When John Blake bought a lot at the corner of Elliot street in East Bay street in 1791, he realized that the house at 105 East Bay street took up 8 inches of his property. He executed an agreement with the neighbor to acquire the deed to the misplaced wall and added a gutter to provide drainage between that property and the new home he built in 1792. Although the home has been altered many times inside and out, the new owner in 1970 determined the original configuration and we started with a new kitchen house addition Behind the property which has its own address of 1 Elliott Street.

Modern Outdoor Lanterns Add To East Bay Street Charm

As you travel East Bay Street, you will note that the street is dotted with outdoor lanterns that harken back to the gas lanterns popular in centuries past. Lantern & Scroll offers an excellent pay to bring the past to your home with copper reproductions for inside and out.

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