26 August 2014

Move the darn car out of my picture

Pink House, Chalmers St., Charleston, S.C.

Okay, I'll say it out loud - we all want to take pictures of the little pink house on Chalmers St. and we want YOU to quit parking your car in front of it. The last thing I'd like Mayor Riley to rule on before and if he leaves the Mayor's office after his record breaking forty year term would be to put up a "No Parking" sign in front of the quaint cottage. I wouldn't even mind a sign restricting parking to vintage or cute car parking that would be an asset to a photo.
The distinctive little pink building at 17 Chalmers Street is said to be the oldest standing tavern building in the South. Built within the walled city of Charles Towne in the mid 1690s by John Breton, this oldest stone house in the city was constructed of 'Bermuda stone'. The West Indian coral stone had a natural pink cast, so the building was known as the Pink House from the beginning. Tradition holds that the Bermuda stone was brought in ships as ballast, as the cobblestones on Chalmers Street were, but it is more likely that it was cut in Bermuda and imported as a building material. The stone is soft enough to be cut into blocks and then when exposed to weather, it gradually hardens and becomes stronger. Its elasticity was proved in the great earthquake on 1886 when nearby brick structures suffered damage. The tiled roof is original terra cotta tile of an ancient vintage. The curved shape of the tiles was said to be formed over the workmen's thighs. The Pink House also was one of the few buildings in Charleston to survive 1989's Hurricane Hugo virutally unscathed.

In the building's early days, as a 'groggerie' and coffee house for sailors visiting the port from all over the world, this area was a red light district called Mulatto Alley and the street was lined with many small houses, most of which were bordellos. The Pink House was not a fashionable bistro for Charleston gentry, but rather a simple tavern, where the seamen found their 'three Ws'......whiskey, wenches, and wittles. Around 1800 the area was cleaned up after many citizens petitioned the City Council. Thomas Elfe, the famous furniture maker, wrote a letter complaining about the noisy parties at night.