Rainbow Row is the Eiffel Tower of Charleston. The multi-hued block of 18th century townhouses shows up on all the tourist wares (t-shirts, magnets, postcards, coffee mugs), and there’s bound to be at least a couple of picture takers in front of the homes at any given time of day. It’s just so darn photogenic! Dorothy Porche Legge initiated Rainbow Row’s current look when she bought up a few of the homes in the early 1900s and decided to paint them in Caribbean-inspired colors. The neighbors followed suit, and the rest is history. This week’s OTTP is located on the row, and it’s perfect for an individual who doesn’t mind being in the spotlight.
Like most things in Charleston, this house has a long, interesting history. What’s formally known as the Inglis Arch House was built in 1787. Similar to the rest of Rainbow Row, it was originally configured as a store on the main level with the merchant typically living above. In fact, the original merchants in the space were tea importers, and it was their wares that were dumped into the harbor during the Charleston Tea Part of 1775. The structure sustained heavy damage during the city’s Civil War siege in 1864, which required some heavy remodeling after the fact. In 1938, the house was restored to something approaching its original design, and most recently the venerable firm of Richard Marks took it all the way back to its 1780s roots.
Access to the soft pink home’s interior is granted through a frilly iron gate that leads into a vaulted passageway straight out of an Anne Rice novel. Need to get to the roof pronto? Save those calories and hop on the elevator! On the ground level is a lovely little courtyard intimately enclosed by the house’s rear facade, the guest house, and ivy-covered brick walls. Entering the upper levels, you get a sense of how sensitive Richard Marks is with his restorations. Nothing comes off as glaringly new, although it’s obvious that the home’s received all the details required for contemporary living.
For instance, take the kitchen. No one’s mistaking this for a room out of 1787, but touches like the bullseye window over the sink that references the one on the home’s facade, as well as the mismatched cabinetry and period molding make it feel right at home. Subtle vaults in the ceilings pull they eye up and add to the rooms‘ psychological dimensions; the oculus set over the epic curving staircase is almost mesmerizing. One area that received some splurge was the master suite. If features a sumptuous bathroom that seems to go on for days, as well as a rooftop deck with breathtaking views of the city and its harbor. All this, and a heated lap pool and guest house that could serve as its own residence. The Inglis Arch House has been many things throughout the years, but we think its turn as an elegant urban showplace is its best incarnation yet.