Looking Back at the East End Historic District

Bordered by lush mountains with a beautiful river vista, Charleston’s East End Historic District is comprised of residential homes built between the 1830s through the 1940s. Most buildings are single-family, one and two-story homes interspersed with the occasional apartment complex of three to six stories. The area contains various architectural styles such as Queen Anne, Italianate, Eastlake, Romanesque, Georgian, Neo-Classical, Jacobean, Prairie, and Bungalow.

When initially recognized by the National Register of Historic Places in 1978, the East End Historic District encompassed land from Greenbrier Street to Bradford Street, and from Kanawha Boulevard to Lee Street. In July of 2014, an addition was added, including the area between Washington Street, Dixie Street, Shelton Avenue, and Greenbrier Street.
Ruffner Memorial Park was the only greenspace that was planned for the area. The esplanade along the Kanawha Boulevard provides additional space for enjoying the local scenery. At present, other greenspace areas have manifested, not as a result of planning, but rather lots vacant where houses used to stand. Sidewalks throughout the district provide ample pedestrian space.

Should you consider a driving or walking tour of the homes in the district, the following dwellings are noteworthy:

The Smith-Giltinan House at 1223 Virginia Street – An Eclecticism design with touches of Queen Anne and Richardsonian styles, the asymmetrical buff brick home dominates the corner lot. Designed with the front door facing the corner, the high-pitched hip roof, Gables, arched windows, and rounded veranda are a few of the distinctive features. The home was built in 1890 for Harrison B. Smith, the Kanawha Banking and Trust Company president.

The Myers-Haley House at 1502 Virginia Street – Completed in 1907 for Solomon E. Myers, owner of Myers Brothers of Charleston plumbing company, this house boasts perhaps the most massive Ionic columns of any house in the district. The home is on the right in the accompanying photos. Although not yet planted in the postcard photo, the tree in the present-day photo nearly obscures the columns from the street view.

The Henry C. Dickenson House at 1579 Virginia Street – Built in 1903, keeping true to its origins, the home remains grey painted brick. The front portico details include Ionic columns and a balustrade with turned balusters. The home’s symmetry reflects the trend of the homes built in the East End during the period.

The Woman’s Club of Charleston building at 1600 Virginia Street – Designed by Walter Marten and built in the late 1920s, the building is a fine example of Chateauesque architecture. Features of interest are the three arched entrance doors, decorative wrought ironwork, and the use of plaster swags and lattice designs.

The Herold E. Shadel House at 1511 Quarrier Street – Built for the lumber baron in 1910, it was designed by the Davidson Brothers of Charleston. The Davidson Brothers were the architects of many East End homes during the early 20th century. The home boasts Art Nouveau styling and is an excellent example of the symmetrical style favored during that period.

Kanawha Boulevard lots are larger than those on streets to the north. Houses are set back from the road farther with more room between homes as well. Some of the leaders of the Charleston community were the first to build along the boulevard. Among them are were civic leaders, an iron foundry owner, an oil company CEO, a pastor, an obstetrician, and a liquor wholesaler. While the balance of the boulevard homes are now businesses rather than family dwellings, the owners have, in large part, maintained the esthetic of the East End Historic District. The East End Historic District is bookended by the State Capitol to the east and the Downtown Charleston Historic District to the west, providing blocks and blocks of history in architecture.

Next month, Looking Back examines several downtown Charleston apartment buildings from the early 20th century.

Squires’ new book Look Back at Charleston is a compilation of 24 essays and color photos from her column and is available on Amazon. Visit www.mlynne.com.

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