Sep 02, 2020

William Means Guide to Charleston Single Homes

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For many years, the Charleston Single-style home has been considered Charleston’s most iconic architectural style. Historically, its unique design was well-suited for the challenges of urban living in the bustling port city, especially after the devastating city-wide fire of 1740. Today, the Charleston Single’s distinguished features and classic charm make it a quintessential part of the Holy City.

Unique Orientation. Due to scarcity of space on the peninsula, the original urban design of 1680 Charles Town included deep but narrow lots. The orientation of the Charleston Single home, positioned sideways with the narrow side of the building facing the street, maximizes the space on the lot. The street-facing “front door” is actually an entrance onto the piazza, from which you enter the home itself.

Narrow Width. Another defining feature of the Charleston Single home is its one-room width. However, the sizes of Single-style homes varies greatly from charming compact homes to sprawling historic estates. Typically, the first floor comprises the main living areas and bedrooms are located on the second floor.

Charming Piazzas. Side-facing piazzas are an engineering feat originally designed to naturally ventilate Charleston Single homes. The length side of most of the homes faces West or South, so that the piazzas provide shade during the warmest parts of the day and also take advantage of the breezes coming off of the Charleston Harbor. Many Charleston Single homes offer double piazzas for maximum outdoor space.

Varying Period Styles. Though they all have the same recognizable structure, Charleston Single homes come in a wonderful variety of period styles. From Federal to Italianate to Georgian to Classic Revival Style, unique details and styles add charm and interest to each home.

Considerable Privacy. The construction and orientation of Charleston Single homes provides a great deal of privacy both inside and out, which is ideal especially for those living in downtown Charleston or other dense communities. With only one room on each floor having a street view and the piazzas facing away from the street, one can easily sit and relax indoors and out without noticing passers-by on the streets.

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