Monday, July 23, 2012

Piazzas (aka porches)

My favorite part of Charleston, by far, was the houses and their enormous porches. All the piazzas face either south or west to catch the breezes off the harbor during the hot summer months. 

At the time settlers came over from England to the New World, there was a tax in England based off how much of the street your home occupied, so when the settlers built their houses in Charleston, they built their houses sideways in anticipation of this tax being passed in the colonies. This means all the houses look extremely narrow and deep, and their "front" doors are really side doors which lead to an open porch, not into the house itself. Additionally, during the 1800s when men were really gentlemen (some still are!) if the porch door was closed, men would avert their eyes so as not to see women in states of undress trying to catch the breeze. If the "front" door was open, no one was indecent and visiting was accepted.

You can see on the porches below that the ceilings are painted blue. The color is called haint blue, haint being the Gullah word for "haunt". The Gullahs were descendants of African slaves with a rich culture. This particular color is a trademark of the South and is painted on the tops of porches over doorways and sometimes on shutters meant to keep evil spirits and ghosts (or "haunts") from entering the home. 

Well, that's about all I have on our trip to Charleston. It was fantastic and despite the heat, I enjoyed every minute of it. I've always told Chris that if we end up having to move again, I would move to is my kind of city! It doesn't have the crowds and hurriedness of New York City or the traffic of D.C. (though I will always hold a special place in my heart for D.C. because I grew up in that area and it is so rich with our country's history). It's on the water (I love the water) and the pace of life fits me well. Thankfully, Williamsburg also has rich history, is close to the water, has a great pace of life, and is without crazy traffic so I guess I am lucky :)


jennie said...

those porches are incredible! i love that they are on every floor!

Patty said...

I love these porches, too! If you build one, I will come!

maggie said...

wow, I of course love the history behind the porches and the architecture. My room growing up looks like it was "haint" blue! we will totally visit you in Charleston :)