Rainbow Row is a popular tourist attraction, known for its vibrant colors and iconic landmark that embodies the charm and elegance of Charleston, South Carolina. This collection of colorful Georgian row houses boasts a fascinating history that dates back to the 18th century. Today, the row houses stand as a testament to Charleston's enduring legacy, having survived numerous natural disasters, wars, and urban development projects.
7 min drive
21 min walk
Arguably the most iconic street in Charleston, Rainbow Row is a collection of buildings that contains the longest intact stretch of 18th-century Georgian row houses, each with a rich and unique history of its own. Among them are the William Stone House, James Gordon House, and James Cook House.
The houses, all located on East Bay Street between Tradd Street and Elliot Street, were named Rainbow Row after they were restored in the 1930s and 40s. Rainbow Row is one of Historic Charleston, South Carolina’s absolute must-sees, for its captivating beauty and engaging Charleston history.
Originally built directly on the banks of Cooper River, the land across from what is now Rainbow Row was later filled in. The buildings were initially commercial stores on the ground level and living quarters above, but they were mostly left to ruin after the Civil War. In the 1920s, the founder of the Preservation Society of Charleston, Susan Pringle Frost, bought six of the buildings, but she did not have the money to restore them. In 1931, a woman named Dorothy Haskell Porcher Legge bought a neighboring section of the houses and began to paint them in a colonial Caribbean color scheme. Others began buying houses and painting them similarly, creating the colorful, eponymous effect.
About The Pinch Charleston
The hotel’s reputation as one of the best Charleston city market hotels is well-earned, thanks in part to its prime location in the heart of Charleston
Guests can easily check in iconic landmarks like Charleston Historic District , as the hotel is within walking distance of this must-see attraction. It offers beautifully decorated rooms and top-notch amenities, including an oyster bar serving up some of the freshest seafood in town.
Discover the perfect blend of comfort, sophistication, and Southern charm at The Pinch Charleston Hotel. This luxurious boutique hotel offers top-notch amenities, including a 24-hour front desk, an on-site fitness center, and free Wi-Fi . The hotel's great location offers easy access to Charleston City Market, Charleston Museum, French Quarter, College of Charleston and South Carolina Aquarium.
Rainbow Row History
Every house in Rainbow Row is unique, architecturally and historically. 91 East Bay Street, once owned by playwright John McGowan, was restored with large arched doors. 95 East Bay Street, formerly the house of Founding Father Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, has a Flemish gable roofline. Another house, 105 East Bay Street, is the only one that has retained a Victorian storefront. Interestingly, 83 East Bay Street was built by a Tory merchant who later fled to downtown Charleston, South Carolina, during the Revolutionary War.
Most of the houses have had their current appearance since about 1945 when restorations were generally completed. There are Charleston city ordinances in effect, making sure that the houses on Rainbow Row remain brightly colored.
Rainbow Row is subject to a host of urban myths relating to its pastel colors. Some say that the houses were painted such colors so that drunken sailors could make their way home. Others believe that the colors date back to the time when the buildings were used for commercial purposes; the colors are supposed to correspond with what was sold inside. However, most historical accounts have established that these stories are false, though it is amusing to imagine them.
A walking tour of Rainbow Row is a delightful way to explore one of Charleston's most iconic landmarks. Starting at the southern end of East Bay Street, visitors can begin their journey by admiring the different colors of the 13 Georgian row houses that make up Rainbow Row. Along the way, knowledgeable guides provide fascinating insights into the history and architecture of the historic homes.
The tour takes visitors on a journey through time, with each house showcasing a unique story and character. The William Gibbes House, for example, boasts a stunning three-story piazza, while the James Cook House is rumored to be haunted by the ghost of a former resident. As visitors make their way along the street, they'll also discover hidden alleyways and gardens that provide a glimpse into the private lives of the residents.
As the tour comes to an end, visitors can take a moment to reflect on the rich cultural heritage of Rainbow Row and Charleston as a whole. With its colorful houses, charming streets, and vibrant history, Rainbow Row is truly a one-of-a-kind destination that should not be missed.
Rainbow Row, like much of historic Charleston, has borne witness to some of the nation’s most important events. Its pastel colors and unique architecture correspond to fascinating stories and quirky myths. With one of the city’s most iconic, picturesque views, it is definitely worth the visit.
You’ll find us at the historic address of 36 George Street, Charleston, SC 29401. We’re conveniently situated directly in the middle of downtown Charleston, right in the middle of King Street, one of the main strips filled with bars, restaurants, shops, and more.
Indeed we do. You’ll find our concierge and front desk staff ready, willing, and able to help you morning, noon, and night.
We love our furry friends, but to respect our guests with pet allergies, we are a pet-free hotel.
While every room is equipped with its own washer & dryer, we also offer off-site drycleaning. That service is only available on weekdays, and for an additional fee.
Yes, we offer on-site valet parking for $49.00 a day per vehicle, with unlimited in and out privileges. Please note we may not be able to accommodate very large vehicles on our parking lifts. There are nearby city meters & parking garages for self-parking options.