The History Of Rainbow Row in Charleston, SC

Charleston is a history lover’s paradise. You could meander the cobblestone streets for hours admiring antebellum homes, gardens, and historic landmarks. However, one of the most iconic sites to learn about in all of Charleston, SC is Rainbow Row. Learn more about the history of Rainbow Row and discover why these vibrant, colorful homes are part of the fabric of the Holy City.

When you book a tour with Classic Carriage Works, you may even get the chance to see the row by horse-drawn carriage. Join us in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina!

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About Rainbow Row

You can find Rainbow Row in Charleston’s Historic District, on East Bay Street. This famous street is adjacent to the Battery that overlooks the Charleston Harbor. The row is comprised of thirteen homes, and, as you can guess by the name, each home is painted in a striking pastel color that contrasts with the usual muted colors of Charlestonian homes. At first glance, without even knowing the history of the street, you can sense that there’s something significant about this unique row of houses.

So, Why Are They Rainbow?

As you can imagine, these homes weren’t always so beautifully colored and finely kept. In fact, they were quite the opposite. They were once decrepit and considered a slum upon the close of the Civil War. However, when a young couple purchased houses number 99 through 101, they chose to change the color of each to a bright, pastel pink. They wanted to both preserve the homes as well as restore the surrounding area. As time went on, neighbors adopted fun colors of their own, until thirteen houses, one right next to the other, lined the street in a rainbow fashion.

Fun Facts

Rainbow Row isn’t just known for its aesthetics. Take a look at what else makes this historic site so famous:

  • Rainbow Row is the longest cluster of Georgian homes in all of the United States
  • The row is one of the most photographed areas in Charleston, South Carolina
  • Originally, merchants opened stores on the bottom floors and lived on the top floors
  • One of the most common myths about the homes is that they were painted to help drunken sailors coming in from the port remember where they were staying that night
  • Susan Pringle Frost, the buyer of houses 99 through 101, went on to become the founder of the Society for the Preservation of Old Dwellings (now known as the Preservation Society of Charleston)

Book A Carriage Tour

The history of Rainbow Row in Charleston, SC is part of the framework of the Holy City. But, there’s plenty more historic streets and sites to learn about in our beautiful city. Book a Charleston History Carriage Tour with Classic Carriage Works, and allow one of our experienced, knowledgeable guides to inform you on all of the most important attractions in the Historic District. We look forward to seeing you soon!

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