Architectural Monographs: Charleston’s Charming Edwards-Smyth House

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Better known today as the Pineapple Gates House for the large finials on its large brick and decorative wrought iron gates (which are actually supposed to be Italian pine cones), the Simmons-Edwards House of Charleston, South Carolina remains among the city’s most distinguished over 200 years after it was built. When this monograph was written in 1928, it was known as the Edwards-Smyth House. It’s a prime example of classic British architecture of the time that was adapted for a sub-tropical climate, bearing a few hints here and there of a Caribbean influence.

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Writes the author, “It is the thoroughly studied assurance displayed in combining all of the elements, the piazzas, the gates, the fence, the dependencies and the garden into a unified scheme that mark it as the work of more than the amateur. Many other houses in Charleston have employed all of these elements but none have combined them more happily.”

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Every historic architectural detail of the home is examined in this issue of the historic White Pine Monographs, from the ornate ornamentation of the plaster ceiling in the hall to the very Charleston multi-storied piazza. Read about what makes this house a Charleston classic and see historic photographs taken in the 1920s at the White Pine Monograph Library.

Architectural Monographs: Doorways in Old Charleston

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Not that anyone needs an excuse to visit the beautiful seaside city of Charleston, South Carolina, but strolling along those streets, you’ll get an ideal opportunity to check out some of the nation’s most beautiful historic architecture, including amazingly intricate doorways. This issue of the White Pine Series of Architectural Monographs takes us on a virtual tour of standout doorways, as they were in the 1910s.

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Charleston is an exceptionally charming city full of stately manors, spire-topped churches and old brick buildings, all in an unusual mix of English, French and West Indian building styles. While a devastating fire in 1886 destroyed many of the oldest structures, the city is still full of historic architecture, and each of these buildings has its own unique doorway reflecting the spirit of the builder or original owner.

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“The development of our Early American Architecture can be traced more clearly, and with less deviation from the true path, by its doorways, than through any other detail. For in the doorway, the index of the style of the house and its period are most clearly indicated. Charleston, South Carolina, offers some interesting examples that are in a way unique as to scheme and execution.”

See photos and read more about Old Charleston’s doorways at the White Pine Monograph library.

Architectural Monographs: Colonial Charleston Mansions

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The grand homes of Charleston, South Carolina may be larger and more ornate than the simple New England structures typically celebrated in the historic White Pine Series of Architectural Monographs, but they carry the same sense of human scale and homeyness. Those qualities are put on display in this issue, highlighting several notable Colonial houses in the southern seaside city.

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These homes may often be separated from passersby by massive iron gates topped with intimidating spikes, but they still feel welcoming thanks to their placement close to the street. The Miles Brewton Mansion (also known as the Pringle House) is one example, one of very few old houses that survived several disastrous fires throughout the city’s history.

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The author of this monograph describes the qualities of this mansion and others that “astound Northerners,” including architectural details reminiscent of Tudor England and Spanish-style tiled roofs. Sturdy bricks and tiled roofs were adopted as time went on to make homes more fireproof. Other details described as unique Charlestonian features include many-sided bay windows.

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Read more at the White Pine Monograph Library.

Architectural Monographs: Old Charleston, Photographed in the 1920s

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The charm of Old Charleston speaks for itself, especially in these 1920s black-and-white photographs captured for Volume XIV, Issue II of the White Pine Series of Architectural Monographs. This issue consists almost entirely of photos of some of this South Carolina coastal city’s oldest and most picturesque buildings, from brick storefronts and stately manors to spire-topped churches.

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A mixture of English and French building typologies influenced by the San Dominican and West Indian settlers led to a charming and entirely unique mixture of architecture, often built using exotic materials like oyster shell lime stucco. While a lot of the city’s historical buildings were destroyed between two wars and a devastating earthquake in 1886, many still stand.

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“It has seemed to us that the buildings cannot be studied properly apart from their surroundings,” write the authors of this monograph. “To look comprehendingly up at church spires and splendid town houses, one must also look beyond them at the city and the people and the times that created them. To appreciate old Charleston at its fullest value it is necessary to see, not only the architectural monuments, but also their settings, and to catch the spirit and atmosphere of the place.”

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Read more at the White Pine Monograph Library.