Rainbow Row, Charleston

4.1
Rainbow Row is the name for a series of thirteen colorful 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 colors 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.
Rainbow Row originally fronted directly on the riverfront of the Cooper River, but that land was subsequently filled in. Merchants constructed commercial buildings with stores on the first (ground) floor and living quarters above. Most of the buildings had no interior access between the first and second floors; exterior stairs were located in the yards behind the houses. In 1778, a fire destroyed much of the neighborhood, and only 95 to 101 East Bay Street were spared.
After the Civil War, this area of Charleston devolved into near slum conditions. In the 1920s, Susan Pringle Frost, the founder of the Society for the Preservation of Old Dwellings, now the Preservation Society of Charleston, bought six of the buildings, but she lacked the money to restore them immediately. In 1931, Dorothy Haskell Porcher Legge purchased a section of these, house numbering 99 through 101 East Bay, and began to renovate them. She chose to paint these houses pink based on a colonial Caribbean color scheme. Other owners and future owners followed suit, creating the "rainbow" of pastel colors present today. The coloring of the houses helped keep the houses cool inside as well as give the area its name. By 1945, most of the houses had been restored.
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Rainbow Row Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.0
1,277 reviews
Google
4.5
TripAdvisor
  • A unique part of Charleston, a must see, beautiful homes near the river. The real estate values are through the sky.  more »
  • The pastel colors of the buildings were amazing. The architecture of all the buildings in Charleston is a must see. Alleys, nooks and crannies all over. Quaint streets...love it.  more »
Google
  • Very beautiful and worth going out of the way and worth prioritizing. Highly encourage you to do it with a tour guide because there is so much interesting history with these homes that we simply could not have appreciated it without one. Interesting stories such as the original uses of the homes, architectural detail such as decorations, a house with no front door, exposed beams from the earthquake, rebuilt homes from the fire... All wonderful stories which all surround and contextualize rainbow row. This is why you come to Charleston.
  • A cute, colorful row of houses right on the waterfront. This is a Charleston fixture. Tourists should check it out and enjoy, but remember they are people's homes. Most of the tours will either take you by there or tell you about them. It's easy to find, and I recommend walking around the entire area since all the homes and gardens in the area are just so beautiful!

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