As a National Historic Landmark, our beautiful city is home to thousands of historic buildings, homes, and alleyways, with some dating back to as early as the 1700’s. In fact, Charleston’s historic architecture plays a tremendous role in characterizing Charleston as one of America’s most unique and charming cities.
Some of the most abundant forms of architecture found throughout the Charleston area include Colonial, Georgian, Federal, Gothic Revival, Italianate, Victorian, and Art Deco. Colonial architecture, for example, was seen during pre-Revolutionary War times of the 1600s – 1700s. Many homes feature the Colonial-style architecture in their design, which often includes symmetrical facades, 2 (or 3) stories, brick or wood siding, pillars and columns, multi-pane windows, and entry-hall floor plans.
Many plantations found in the Charleston area possess Georgian architectural styles, including Drayton Hall. If you’re traveling around the Charleston area in search of this particular architectural style, some of the key elements to look for include square and symmetrical facades, a centered front door, a decorative ledge or crown over the front door, chimneys, and five windows across the front of the house.
The Federal architectural style began appearing in Charleston during the late 1700’s. Britain, as well as the temples of ancient Rome inspired this style. American Federal buildings and homes often have a fanlight over the front door, several chimneys, two narrow windows that frame the sides of the front door, shutters, and an arched palladian window
The Gothic Revival style began to emerge and was popular up until the early 1900’s. The Gothic Revival architecture movement emerged across America when the Gothic style was viewed as “proper Christian architecture.”
The Italianate style appeared around the same time as the Gothic Revival style did. Italianate homes have flat or almost flat roofs, a symmetrical rectangular shape, tall and narrow windows, double doors, balconies, and overhanging ledges (or eaves). They are also characterized by their height and usually have 3 – 4 stories.
Victorian-style homes and buildings are also seen throughout Charleston. These homes and buildings incorporate elements from the old Italianate and Gothic styles. Their steeped roofs, colorful walls, and ornate and fine details characterize most Victorian-style constructions.
The Art Deco style appeared during the roaring 1920’s. Art Deco style was inspired by a variety of cultures and regions, including ancient Egypt, Africa, and India, as well as the ancient Mayan and Aztec cultures, and are characterized by modern and sleek designs, as well as geometric shapes.
No matter where you roam as you tour Charleston, there are endless sights for everyone who loves history and beauty!
(Credit: Ahoy Charleston)