As young architecture students exploring the streets of Charleston, sketch books and (SLR) cameras in hand, Rush and I knew we were walking on hallowed architectural ground. Charleston's best of times and worst of times were visible in her historic structures - some preserved as museums, some renovated for current day functions, and the less lucky, waiting for their day of restoration. It was, therefore, a humbling moment when one of our wonderful clients asked for our assistance with a renovation to 107 E. Bay Street, one of the 13 historic and connected structures, currently known as Rainbow Row.
"Excellent examples of early-eighteen-century wharfside construction, the dwellings along East Bay Street provide insight into the mercantile life of Charleston." [Jonathan Poston, The Buildings of Charleston]
Originally designed and built as stores on the ground level and merchant's living quarters above, these buildings served Charleston's port and directly fronted the Cooper River. (The water's edge at this part of town has since shifted away.) As row houses, they mostly share a party wall in between houses with private access to the residences from the rear alley. Subsequent fires, the effects of the Civil War and the earthquake in 1886, all gave these buildings scars, dark chapters and in some instances a complete rebuild.