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About the Photos

Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • FLY CANADIAN PACIFIC, c. 1950s

Maison Geranium: 1910

Maison Geranium: 1910

Charleston, South Carolina, circa 1910. "Gallery and garden." And dog. 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

 

Textbook Example

Nice example of a Charleston Single House. I wonder where it is.

Single House

These are called Charleston "single houses," and they're really beautiful and climate-appropriate.

Side Gallery

Nothing strange about that door in Charleston -- it's the traditional configuration of house from that era, with the two-story gallery on the side. That door is actually the front door of the house.

Step Into My Parlor

The door accessing the porch from the street is a hallmark of peninsular Charleston homes. In the days before air conditioning, porches were as widely used as any other part of the house, and when one came to the porch it was frequently as if they were in the parlor or main receiving area of a home. By having a door at the street, one was able to create a welcome point for receiving guests before they entered the utilitarian front porch.

Some claim Charleston homes were built with the side of the structure facing the street, rather than the front, because taxes were assessed by street frontage. However, it was most likely because space on the peninsula was quite limited from a very early point, and also, this particular practice of placement allowed residents to benefit from sea breezes, with only the smallest portion of the house receiving direct sun. The street end of the porch was enclosed to afford privacy, as in particularly hot periods, some would even sleep on their porches.

Color it

I want to see somebody try to colorize this one! Too much detail to do it right. Anyone?

Gallery entrance

The elaborate door to the open porch is strange. What a awesome sight that place would have been!

Flowerpots and planters

This pic shows a house that surely could become a scary old place. But with all the live plants and the dog it seems harmless.

I Hope

she never loses her watering can. What a daily regime that must be to maintain that "look." But everything about this shot oozes Charleston, and I can almost hear the drawl and taste the grits.

 
THE 100-YEAR-OLD PHOTO BLOG
Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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