May 17, 2023

The History of The Home

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Drew Grossklaus, Sales Director/BIC East Cooper

I was recently in Washington, D.C. for the National Association of REALTORS® 2023 Legislative Meetings. I had time one afternoon to go to a few of the Smithsonian Museums. They are a wonderful treat, and all are free. During this trip I visited the National Museum of Natural History and the National Museum of American History.

I found it intriguing to learn more about Charleston and the role it played in both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. It is always amazing to read about the history of our country, especially about our very own hometown. Another exhibit I found especially interesting is titled The House. The House is an actual home that stood for 200 years at 16 Elm Street in Ipswich, Massachusetts. It represented first a family home, the growth of an addition, and after a century watching an industrial district grow around it, The House evolved into apartments. It was then planned to be torn down for the construction of a parking lot. Thankfully members of the local historic society contacted the Smithsonian and this living, breathing piece of history was saved for all to learn about and enjoy at the museum.

The House exhibit was a reminder of the vast history of the homes in Charleston. The House features the stories of five families that lived in the home over the course of two centuries. When William Means represents a unique historic listing, we will often go back through historical records to research the history of its owners. One of the historical documents shown with The House exhibit is the Sanborn map. Originally published by The Sanborn Map Company, the maps were created to allow fire insurance companies to assess their total liability in urbanized areas of the United States dating from 1867 to present day.

William Means was established in 1933 and we are lucky to have two historic Sanborn map books on display at our downtown office (pictured above). These documents have lines drawn to represent locations and then as homes are built, cut out shapes are then attached to the map like puzzle pieces to represent the property. A home may later build an addition or garage, and new cuts outs are added. These large map books are truly a look back into the history of Charleston, and you’ll see the size and shape of homes change over the course of time and others have remained the same.

As we celebrate the 90th anniversary of William Means Real Estate serving the Charleston area, it amazing to reflect on the history of this beautiful city and its historic homes. We look forward to being part of that history for generations to come!

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