Master Preservationist Program-Day Four. Analyzing the Architecture

Meeting Street blows my mind.  While I always make it a point to look up and around in the midst of my daily hustle bustle, I never realized how much spectacular architecture graces its length.  From South Battery up past Calhoun St – it is not the number of buildings that surprised me, but the tremendous journey through architectural styles that does.  Knowing when the buildings were built, and being able to analyze their architecture, can tell you stories of Charleston’s economy, of societal styles, of familial preferences, and even of weather and disaster.

So come with me along Charleston’s Museum Mile and have a look for yourself.  I haven’t even scratched the surface with the photos below, but it’s a starting point! (and plus, I have about 7 phone calls to return…)

(Before we go please note that today’s class was actually called “How to Read a Building (Exterior) and Observation” and was taught by Adrienne Jacobsen of Glenn Keyes Architects, one of the preeminent firms in town.)

Federal – 51 Meeting Street, The Nathaniel Russell House and 59 Meeting Street.

Nathaniel Russell House – note the blind arches, keystones and balustrade hiding the roof

59 Meeting St – Built in 1750 in the Federal Style with Greek Revival details added in the 1830s.

Queen Anne – 2 Meeting St (currently a lovely Bed and Breakfast)

Queen Anne with a Charleston twist. Note the ornate details, arches and shingles.

Beaux ArtsGibbes Museum of Art

Note the detail over the lower windows

Roof Detail

Romanesque Revival – The Circular Congregational Church

This current structure built in 1892 is actually the fourth building. However, the Congregational Church has been meeting at this location since 1681

Roman Revival – Market Hall

Most everyone will recognize this building as the front of the “Market”. It was built for the purpose of an actual market (food stuffs) in 1841.

Note the ram and oxen head, not only part of the style, but also denoting what was sold there.

Greek RevivalThe Hibernian and The Charleston Hotel

The Hibernian Hall is considered one of the finest examples of Greek Revival – note the fluted Ionic columns

Here’s a photo of the Charleston Hotel – one of the city’s grandest architectural achievements on Meeting Street.

The Charleston Hotel

What?  You don’t recognize that?  That’s because it was torn down in 1960 and replaced with…a motor lodge.  And then fortunately THAT was replaced by something else entirely.

It’s a Bank of America building with a Dunkin’ Donuts.

Interesting how on this one piece of land, we can track the evolution of American priorities over the past 5o years…

But I digress…from columns and capitals, to balustrades and keystones, to finestration and muntins, hipped roofs, quoins and belt courses.  It is the details of a building that tell you its story and give you a glimpse into a city’s past.  If you’d like more on that, take a look at the Pictorial Key of A Field Guide to American Houses.  Here’s a little sample!

So I hope you enjoyed today’s march down Meeting St.  I have more photos on my Picasa page if you’d like to delve a little further.

Read Master Preservationist Program-Day Three. Getting in the Guts.

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