South of Broad

This post is dedicated to my mom.  In last week's Modern Charleston post, I poked some fun at my mom about her giving me a hard time, about my blog's focus on modern architecture.  I have since apologized, she forgave me and we had a good laugh about it.  Most importantly, she also gave me permission to tease her in future blogs.  Nonetheless, I have put together a post that I am sure my mom will enjoy.  Nothing modern about this one.  She is a big fan of the South of Broad neighborhood and so am I.  It is one of the most beautiful and charming places in Charleston and in the world.  Yeah...that's right...the world!  Whenever I give a tour of Charleston, the main event is a stroll through this historic neighborhood. 

For those who don't know: South of Broad is the neighborhood at the southern most tip of the Charleston peninsula and is guessed it...south of Broad Street.  If you live South of Broad you are lovingly referred to as an S.O.B. and if you live just Slightly North of Broad you are considered a S.N.O.B.  Unfortunately, we are neither.  Our home is about 1.5 miles north of S.O.B.  Lucky for me, the LS3P office is very close.  In fact the photos for this blog were taken on 2 separate lunch breaks.  I have one basic rule for lunch breaks.  Never eat at your desk.  Ever!  Whether you bring your lunch or eat out, I think it is extremely important to take a real lunch break and get away.  And that means getting outside.  I'm lucky that I have such a wonderful city to browse on my break.

Enough about my lunch break.  I have created a list of my 5 favorite things about the South of Broad neighborhood.  Enjoy:


Architectural Variety

Although this neighborhood makes up one of the oldest parts of the peninsula, there is quite a bit of range in periods of construction.  A bulk of these buildings were constructed some time during the 19th century.  Walk down any street and you will experience a rich variety of colors, textures, materials and architectural styles.  You will occasionally stumble upon a pair of 'sister houses' or identical row homes, but for the most part, each house has its own story.

Although there is a ton of variety, there is also enough common elements that serve as the glue that holds the street together and creates a real sense of place.  For example in the picture below, each house is singing its own song, but notice that all of them have the same type of windows and shutters.  This effect is something that I strive for in the design of our buildings.  Too much of the same can seem monotonous, but too much variety can feel chaotic and visually uncomfortable. 

The windows and shutters create that common element that link the buildings.

The green and pink house could be considered sister houses. Notice that each building is different, but each has white windows...the glue.

This is the southern portion of Church Street.  Love this street.

Notice the variety in roof lines.  From left to right: Hip roof, flat roof, gable roof.


Porches and Balconies

It is no secret that us Southern folk like to be outside.  A major feature of these historic homes are the porches and balconies.  I would typically distinguish a porch to be larger than a balcony and to also have a roof and columns.  A balcony is usually smaller and projects out with minimal support.

In Charleston, we call the linear porch below a 'piazza.'

The Charleston single house is the most common building type in Charleston.

The balcony below features very ornate wrought ironwork.  There is definitely a heavy french influence in this part of town.  Remind you of New Orleans?

Below is one of my favorite piazzas in town.  It is actually built out over the sidewalk.  This could be referred to as a sidewalk portico or a loggia.  

The smaller balconies pictured below are often referred to as 'Juliet Balconies.'  I'm always amazed at how thin the floors and supports of these balconies are.  I'll just say that you wouldn't catch me standing on those, and I've never seen anyone else on them either.

Juliet Balcony


Immaculate Driveways

This probably sounds weird, but I really love the driveways in this town.  When you live in the city, land is very valuable especially exterior space.  A good portion of your 'yard' might be taken up by your driveway; therefore, the driveway is a space that is looked at for much more than a place to park a car.  In Charleston, the driveway is usually designed as an extension of the garden.

You will notice that brick is a common element in all of these driveways.  Sometimes stone is integrated or some form of gravel.  Also notice the simple plantings that occur along the edges.  I wouldn't describe them as overly fancy, but just right.

Here is an example of a driveway that is probably more garden at this point.  


Wrought Iron Gates

We have a rich tradition of wrought iron in Charleston. Typically the most ornate ironwork can be found in the form of entrance gates.  Many of the most notable gates were crafted by the great artist and blacksmith Philip Simmmons.  Mr. Simmons who passed away in 2009 left behind an amazing legacy of ironwork.  

You will also see more of my 'immaculate driveways' in these pics.  The gates and driveways kinda go hand in hand.

This is the famous Sword Gate house.

This is definitely a newer gate with a more 'modern' feel.  Sorry mom!

Now this is an entrance!


Fig Vine

The exterior facades of buildings in Charleston are clad in 4 different materials: brick, stucco, wood siding and fig vine.  Fig vine or 'creeping fig' can be found all over the peninsula.  It is most commonly found covering the surfaces of garden walls, but can also be seen on the surfaces of buildings.  Fig vine grows in thick and extremely quick.  And I learned this year that it will actually grow figs.  

I just love the texture it creates and the creative ways that people use it.  I really want to integrate some into our property.  Maybe I will start with a chia pet.

Can you says chia wall?

This is my favorite one.  I love how they have trained it over the arched window.

Thats All Folks!

I had a fun time with this post, but I will say that it was very hard narrowing down this list. There is so much more to see in this neighborhood and I will definitely add to this list in the future.  Next time you are in Charleston make sure you take an afternoon to stroll through this beautiful neighborhood.  

Hope to be an S.O.B. one day!