A Trip to Charleston, South Carolina Part One: The Charming Gas Lanterns
Most cities have a defining characteristic or two that are unique to their identity; New York City has it’s concrete canyons; San Francisco has hills and cable cars; in the Minneapolis skyway system you can walk nine and half miles of downtown without setting foot outside; and Miami has the country’s largest collection of Art Deco buildings.
Charleston, South Carolina has history. Lots of it. The city played an important role in both the American Revolution and our Civil War and has the scars to prove it. But a large, beautiful historic district remains and has been painstakingly restored and maintained for us to enjoy.
The Charleston Historic District is known for its unmatched collection of colorful buildings, but less-often noticed are the little details of those buildings that add to the allure of the area.
Some of my favorite details of the Charleston Historic District are the gas lanterns – dozens and dozens of them on homes and businesses. The charm of the flickering gas flames, burning day and night, gives a tiny bit of life to each lantern, something you can’t feel in the static bulb of an electric light.
I hadn’t intended to photograph gas lanterns during our latest Charleston visit, but those tiny yellow and orange fires, safely contained in artfully-wrought frames of bronze and glass, whispered for my attention on every street.
Charleston gas lanterns come in all shapes and sizes, and vary in style from historic replicas to contemporary flair. But they’re all wonderful – here are a few of my favorites (ok it’s more than a few):
This pair of ogee-topped copper lanterns flank a newly-built doorway on a tiny alley buried deep in the district. I love seeing great details like these in places where few people might notice!
Charleston is known for doorways that open onto porches or gardens before you enter the house. These classic Charleston Gas Lanterns light a doorway to a long, narrow side porch.
A close up view of one of the lanterns in the previous photo – the burner makes a beautiful four-part flame.
This was Karen’s favorite lantern. It reminds her of a crown, it looks to me like something from The Lord of the Rings.
A three and a half story grand home right on the battery waterfront. The nine lanterns here are a spectacular sight!
The attractive tall proportions of this Charleston gas lantern caught my eye.
This large lantern tops an old brick wall along a side street, at the entrance to a lushly landscaped backyard.
Another lantern with interesting proportions – almost seems top heavy, but the balance is delicate.
Rectangular lanterns are common – they often seem a bit more contemporary than the tapered lanterns, a nice contrast.
Seven lanterns along Market Street light up the sidewalk, and the lovely arched windows of this commercial building.
I saved my favorite Charleston Gas Lanterns for last. These two simple but beautiful ones flank the entrance to the Principal Art Gallery on Meeting Street.