Way Back Wednesday: Rainbow Row

Way Back Wednesday

Downtown Charleston, S.C. (WCBD) – It’s Wednesday and that means it is time to explore the history that surrounds the Lowcountry. This week, we head to a picturesque place in downtown Charleston— Rainbow Row!

Well-known by locals and tourists, Rainbow Row is the longest cluster of intact Georgian row houses in the United States.

According to The Historical Marker Database, the oldest structures are on East Bay Street, between Tradd and Elliott Street. They were built by 1680 and can be seen on the Grand Model of Charles Towne.

Library of Congress: 95-103 East Bay Street (Townhouses), Charleston, Charleston County, SC

A Historical Marker erected by The Preservation Society of Charleston explains that in their early years, the buildings served as the shops and residences of merchants and planters but after the Civil War, the buildings became run down and were eventually said to have “deteriorated into slums”.

After decades of neglect, “Susan Pringle Frost, founder of the Society for the Preservation of Old Dwellings, now the Preservation Society of Charleston, began her important preservation and rehabilitation efforts by purchasing some of these properties in the 1920s in order to prevent their demolition.”

The name Rainbow Row was coined after the pastel colors they were painted as they were restored in the 1930s and 1940s.

Today, the row of buildings serves as one of the most widely recognized images of Charleston. If you walk by, strike a pose! The iconic backdrop is sure to be picture perfect.

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