Saturday, November 27, 2010

Rainbow Row

One of the special places I visited today - by car and on foot - was the beautiful, brightly painted homes on East Bay, lovingly referred to as Rainbow Row.

The homes here were built in the mid-1700s, when this part of town was in the center of Charleston's commercial district. Small shops and other businesses were located on the first floors of these buildings, and the owners of each resided above, on the second and third floors.

Saddened by the "needless" destruction of historical buildings inspired Charleston residents to form the Society for the Preservation of Old Dwelling Houses in 1920. That organization - now in its 90th year - is still functioning and still doing a great job of saving the architectural treasures of early Charleston.

In 1931, a woman named Dorothy Legge purchased #99 and #101 East Bay and began the renovation of the area between Tradd and Eliott streets. Her work inspired others to do the same. It was these new owners who picked the distinctive colors for the buildings.

The old row houses represent the very first style of home built in Charleston. They were portrayed in the story of Porgy and Bess, an opera written by George Gershwin when he was visiting Charleston.

Rainbow Row is a beloved city landmark and a favorite destination for tourists, including me!

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