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"R" is for Rainbow Row

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"R" is for Rainbow Row (Charleston). The vibrant paint colors applied to the exterior of neglected buildings between 79 and 107 East Bay Street became one of the earliest and most potent symbols of Charleston’s emerging preservationist movement. In 1931 the decorator and preservationist Dorothy Haskell Porcher Legge purchased and began renovating a house at 99-101 East Bay Street. Legge’s house stood among a row of eighteenth-century buildings and had originally served as the businesses and residences of prosperous merchants. Inspired by the bright pastel colors associated with colonial Caribbean architecture, Legge’s non-historical, attention-grabbing paint scheme sought to encourage rehabilitation. By the twenty-first century, the picturesque collection of buildings known as Rainbow Row was among the most widely recognized images of Charleston and symbolized the role of preservation as a stimulus for urban revitalization.

Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar receivedhisA.B.degreefromDavidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.