Charleston, a National Historic Landmark, has over 2,800 historic buildings, from homes to cobblestone streets, the well-preserved architecture in Charleston plays witness to the town’s rich history, founded in 1670 as Charles Town on the west bank of the Ashley River before moving to its current location in 1680. It is the oldest city in South Carolina and is exemplary of its progression through time with eight different architectural styles: Colonial, Georgian, Federal, Classic Revival, Gothic Revival, Italianate, Victorian, and Art Deco. Discover Charleston’s quaint and charming character with these eight historic buildings.

1. Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon:

Year: 1767–1771
Architectural Style: Georgian
Architect: William Rigby Naylor

About: The Old Exchange is located on the east side of Charleston’s historic downtown area, at the northeast corner of East Bay and Broad Streets. It is a two-story masonry building, capped by a hipped roof with cupola and set on a high brick basement. The main facade faces west, and has a projecting three-bay gabled section at its centre with entrances recessed in three round-arch openings on the first floor, and sash windows set in bays articulated by Ionic pilasters on the second. The flanking walls each have a Palladian window set on a brick base with balustrade.

2. Heyward-Washington House:

Architectural Style: Georgian

About: The Heyward-Washington House is a historic house museum at 87 Church Street in Charleston, South Carolina. Built in 1772, it was home to Thomas Heyward, Jr., a signer of the United States Declaration of Independence, and was where George Washington stayed during his 1791 visit to the city. It is now owned and operated by the Charleston Museum. Furnished for the late 18th century, the house includes a collection of Charleston-made furniture. Other structures include the carriage shed and 1740s kitchen building.

3. Wentworth Mansion:

Year: 1771
Architectural Style: Georgian

About: A 21-room tribute to Charleston grandeur, The Wentworth Mansion is a downtown Charleston inn that exemplifies splendour with Italian crystal chandeliers, hand-carved marble fireplaces, gracious hospitality, and luxurious amenities – all just steps from award-winning dining, art, history, and shopping. True to its original role as a private residence, the Wentworth Mansion embraces guests with warm, intuitive service that is comfort itself. Rates include parking, a full southern breakfast each morning, afternoon hors d’oeuvres and wine, and evening port, sherry and brandy.

4. Riviera Theatre:

Year: 1939
Architectural Style: modernist

About: Listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, the Riviera Theatre is a sublime example of the romantic Art Deco style. It opened on January 15, 1939 with Edmund Lowe in “Secrets of a Nurse”. Seating was provided for 789 in the orchestra level, 125 in the balcony, and 279 in the gallery (rear balcony for African Americans, who had their own separate entrance on Market Street).This stunning theatre was the home of first run pictures, on its fifty foot screen, until it closed on September 5, 1977. The theatre was leased to a church group in 1979 and, by mid-1980, threatened with demolition.

5. Middleton Place:

About: Middleton Place is a plantation in Dorchester County, directly across the Ashley River from North Charleston and about 15 miles (24 km) northwest of Charleston, in the U.S. state of South Carolina. Built in several phases during the 18th and 19th centuries, the plantation was the primary residence of several generations of the Middleton family, many of whom played prominent roles in the colonial and antebellum history of South Carolina. The plantation, now a National Historic Landmark District, is used as a museum, and is home to the oldest landscaped gardens in the United States.

6. Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge:

Style: Cable Stayed Bridge
Year of construction: 2005

About: The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, also known as the as the Ravenel Bridge and the Cooper River Bridge is a cable-stayed bridge over the Cooper River in South Carolina, USA, connecting downtown Charleston to Mount Pleasant. The bridge has a main span of 1,546 feet (471 m), the third longest among cable-stayed bridges in the Western Hemisphere. It was built using the design-build method and was designed by Parsons Brinckerhoff.

7. Patriots Point:

Style: navy
Year of construction: 1975

About: Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum is located in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, at the mouth of the Cooper River on the Charleston Harbour, across from Charleston. Patriots Point has continued to grow; serving as an embarkation point for Fort Sumter tour boats, being home to several other vessels (including the submarine USS Clamagore), the Cold War Submarine Memorial, a replica of a Vietnam Support Base, and the museum of the Medal of Honour Society. Patriots Point celebrated their 10 millionth visitor in February 2017.

8. Boone Hall Plantation:

Style: plantations
Year of construction: 1743

About: Boone Hall Plantation is one of America’s oldest working plantations, continually growing crops for over 320 years. The antebellum era plantation is located in Mount Pleasant, Charleston County, South Carolina, U.S.A., and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

9. Magnolia Plantation and Gardens (Charleston, South Carolina):

Style: plantations
Year of construction: 1850

About: Magnolia Plantation and Gardens (464 acres, 187.77 hectares) is a historic house with gardens located on the Ashley River at 3550 Ashley River Road west of Ashley, Charleston County, South Carolina. It is one of the oldest plantations in the South, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Magnolia Plantation is located near Charleston and directly across the Ashley River from North Charleston. The house and gardens are open daily; an admission fee is charged.

10. Historic Charleston City Market:

Style: Greek revival
Year of construction: 1841

About: The City Market is a historic market complex in downtown Charleston, South Carolina. Established in the 1790s, the market stretches for four city blocks from the architecturally-significant Market Hall, which faces Meeting Street, through a continuous series of one-story market sheds, the last of which terminates at East Bay Street. The Market Hall has been described as a building of the “highest architectural design quality.” The entire complex was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as Market Hall and Sheds and was further designated a National Historic Landmark.

11. Waterfront Park:

Style: Modernist
Year of construction: 1990
Designed by: Stuart O. Dawson

About: the park was designed by Stuart O. Dawson of Sasaki Associates with assistance from Edward Pinckney Associates and has received many design awards. The park is composed of distinct sections. At the northern entrance to the park at the foot of Vendue Range (a street in Charleston), a large fountain was built which anchors the end of the park. From the fountain, Vendue Wharf is a wide, wooden pier which extends into the Cooper River and offers sheltered swings. A floating dock is attached at the far end and provides unobstructed views of the Ravenel Bridge, Charleston Harbor, Castle Pinckney, the U.S.S. Yorktown at Patriot’s Point, and Fort Sumter. The pier extends into the river approximately the same length as the Tidewater Terminals, Inc. facility had, and its charred pilings from the 1955 fire are still visible.

12. South Carolina Aquarium:

Style: Modernist
Year of construction: 2000

About: The South Carolina Aquarium, located in Charleston, South Carolina, opened on May 19, 2000 on the historic Charleston Harbour. It is home to more than ten thousand plants and animals including North American river otters, loggerhead sea turtles, alligators, great blue herons, owls, lined seahorses, jellyfish, puffer fish, green moray eels, horseshoe crabs, sea stars, pythons, and sharks.

13. Rainbow Row:

Style: Georgian
Year of construction: 1930

About: Rainbow Row is the name for a series of thirteen colourful historic houses in Charleston, South Carolina. It represents the longest cluster of Georgian row houses in the United States. The houses are located north of Tradd St. and south of Elliott St. on East Bay Street, that is, 79 to 107 East Bay Street. The name Rainbow Row was coined after the pastel colours they were painted as they were restored in the 1930s and 1940s. It is a popular tourist attraction and is one of the most photographed parts of Charleston.

14. Charleston Museum:

Style: modernist
Year of construction: 1773

About: The Charleston Museum is one of the oldest museums in the United States. Its highly regarded collection includes historic artefacts, natural history, decorative arts and two historic Charleston houses.

The museum’s exhibits include natural history and local history displays and decorative arts, including silver. The museum is also home to the only known fossil of the extinct Pelagornissandersi, which is possibly the largest flying bird ever discovered.

15. Drayton Hall:

Style: Palladian
Year of construction: 1747- 1752

About: Drayton Hall is an 18th-century plantation located on the Ashley River about 15 miles (24 km) northwest of Charleston, South Carolina, and directly across the Ashley River from North Charleston, west of the Ashley in the Low country, sometimes called (Low Country.) An outstanding example of Palladian architecture in North America and the only plantation house on the Ashley River to survive intact through both the Revolutionary and Civil wars, it is a National Historic Landmark.

An architect by profession, writer by passion, Aishwarya Hoonur
has a vivid curiosity to observe common man’s situations, Penning these experiences down is her obsession. A girl next door who believes that, ‘in the world of crude construction, architecture is a
musical reverberation.’


Paushali Raha is an architect with the writer bug. Her love for history and literature has helped her understand the true amalgamation of storytelling and architecture. Amidst the chaos of varied vocations, she hopes to promote social architecture through practice and words.

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