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The Charleston Single House

A typical Charleston Single House
A typical Charleston Single House

     The Charleston Single House is the most dominant style of house in the historic district.  The gable end, or shorter end, faces the street while the house then stretches back onto the lot. The house is one room wide often two rooms deep.  There is often a porch, called a piazza in Charleston, on one long side of the house. 

     The door on the street is confusing to some because it does not lead into the house, instead leading onto the porch.  These piazzas were often living spaces when the weather was warm.  families might be taking meals, entertaining guests, even sleeping on the piazza.  The door kept those activities private and allowed a visitor to knock and announce themselves.

     The house is set up this way to take advantage of the sea breeze coming off the ocean.  Because the house is only one room wide, the breeze cools the entire house with few doors and halls to hinder its progress.  The piazza shades that side of the house from the afternoon sun also helping to keep the temperature down.

     The settlers and later immigrants saw these single house designs in Bermuda and Barbados and adapted them for use in Charleston.  The earliest existing single house dates from the early 1720's.