"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in
its net of wonder forever."—Jacques Cousteau

April 2, 2013

April 1 - The Pink House

Ashley Marina

I have readers who have told me they enjoy reading about the history we learn along our adventure…this blog entry is for those readers. There’s an endless supply of history to learn in Charleston. Last week my friend and I wandered through The Pink House Gallery and learned another piece of history this amazing city has to offer. The distinctive little pink building at 17 Chalmers Street is said to be the oldest standing tavern building in the South. Built within the walled city of Charles Towne in the mid 1690s, this oldest stone house in the city was constructed of 'Bermuda stone'. The stone is soft enough to be cut into blocks and then when exposed to weather, it gradually hardens and becomes stronger. Its elasticity was proved in the great earthquake on 1886 when nearby brick structures suffered damage. The tiled roof is original terra cotta tile. The curved shape of the tiles was said to be formed over the workmen's thighs. The Pink House was one of the few buildings in Charleston to survive the 1989 Hurricane Hugo virtually untouched.

In the building's early days, the Pink House was a simple tavern for sailors visiting the port from all over the world. This area was a red light district called Mulatto Alley and the street was lined with many small houses, most of which were bordellos. Around 1800 the area was cleaned up.

The Pink House is architecturally Charleston's most unique building, each of three floors has only one room and the low ceilings and narrow staircase are not typical of Charleston. The first and second floors each have one square (13’ by 13’) room with an oversize fireplace. The third floor is a garret of the same size, but the walls slant in, following the lines of the gambrel roof, which is one of the few gambrel roofs in the city. The huge fireplaces, which were used for heating, but also for cooking, are unusual, since most Charleston houses had separate kitchen buildings in the rear. The Pink House is located on one of Charleston's few remaining cobblestone streets.

Through the years The Pink house has been used as a private resident, law offices and an art gallery. In the 1930s the house was renovated and a small wing was added to the southeast corner. In the 1950s a tiny powder room was added to the right rear, the first real plumbing for the building. The property is on the market again and you can own this piece of history of a mere $999,500.

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