Lost Charleston

charleston 1Good morning Lacquered Lifers. Today I’m going to hit you with a preservation post, because it honestly seems like it has been too long! While a city like Charleston may seem like a preservationists paradise, even Charleston has had its major architectural losses over the years. For me, one of the saddest and most ironic losses in Charleston was the Charleston Hotel. Sad because the building was absolutely beautiful, and ironic because now that Charleston is a top tourist destination there are currently at least four new hotels being built in downtown Charleston. 
charleston 2Located on Meeting Street between Hayne and Pinckney Streets, the Charleston Hotel was built in 1838 and its design was immediately praised by the local community. It was destroyed by fire soon after its grand opening, but was immediately rebuilt to the exact same specifications. It was a beautiful building both inside and out, featuring the corinthian colonnade at its facade and a stunning domed iron and glass atrium on its interior. After the Civil War, when the southern economy was in dire straits, the hotel fell on hard times. Rooms were rented to local boarders and during prohibition owners sold illegal whisky out of the hotel in an attempt to make ends meet. By 1950 plans were made to demolish the hotel in favor of a drive in motel (can you believe that?) and despite the attempts by local preservationists to save the building, in 1960 it was lost. If you were visiting Charleston today wouldn’t you have stayed at the Charleston Hotel?

For my recommendations on where to stay and dine while in Charleston, visit my Charleston Guide.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  • It would be interesting to see how much the landscape has changed since 1960 – both good and bad – in Charleston. We tend to see it as a total success story, yet clearly since it hasn’t been, the story of preservation there is inspirational. Bravo!