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The Buildings of Charleston
A Guide to the City's Architecture

Jonathan Poston

From the Battery to Wragg Mall, a comprehensive guide to the architectural treasures in America's best preserved city

Known as America's best-preserved city, Charleston, South Carolina, boasts a charming cityscape that captivated eighteenth-century visitors and continues to attract travelers from around the world. Fully illustrated with more than one thousand photographs and drawings, The Buildings of Charleston offers the present-day traveler and Charlestonians alike a comprehensive resource to the peninsula's impressive architectural array.

Focusing primarily on the buildings of the official "Old and Historic District of Charleston"—most of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and are designated National Historic Landmarks—the book divides the city into nine geographic areas. An introductory essay, maps that give an overview of important sites, and detailed descriptions and illustrations of individual structures are included for each area. The volume illumines such signature features of Charleston streetscapes as ornamental ironwork, the "Charleston single house," and historic cemeteries.

There are few places in the United States where buildings evoke the feel and character of the past as powerfully as they do along the streets of historic Charleston. Ideal for the serious scholar of architecture as well as for all who love the city, The Buildings of Charleston is the definitive work on the architecture of one of America's most distinctive cities.

Jonathan Poston is the coordinator of Historic Charleston Foundation's Preservation Division. A persuasive advocate of historic preservation, Poston teaches a popular course on the history and architecture of Charleston at the College of Charleston.

Historic Charleston Foundation is one of the oldest historic preservation organizations in the United States. Established in 1947 by citizens concerned by the effects of post-war development on Charleston's buildings, neighborhoods, and streetscapes, Historic Charleston Foundation is at the forefront of the effort to preserve the city's architectural treasures.

" …a comprehensive, 717-page guide to peninsular architecture aimed at Charlestonians and visitors alike. Illustrated with more than 1,000 photographs, drawings and maps, the reference book focuses chiefly on the buildings of the official Old and Historic District of Charleston …already dubbed the 'New Bible' of the Historic District, …[it]is the product of a four-year evolution."—Bill Thompson, Post & Courier

"The Buildings of Charleston, modestly subtitled "A Guide to the City's Architecture," actually is a stunning achievement of encyclopedic proportions. This book is a rich, 718-page reference work, a cornucopia of the architectural and social history of Charleston's Historic District, which brings together for the first time a comprehensive history of the built city …a quantum leap over any and al of its predecessors. In richness of detail, historical accuracy, use of all available sources, graphics and especially photography, it stands—and will stand for years to come—as the bible of Charleston's architectural history. Readers can only hope that Poston and the foundation will consider a second volume addressing the buildings of Charleston County."—Robert Rosen, Post & Courier

"The book is a magnificent achievement, and I have not even mentioned the additional essays on the Charleston 'Single House,' the wonderful ironwork displays around the city and its burying grounds. And there is a through glossary at the end to aid those of us architecturally impaired souls. It is easy to understand and amply illustrated …this is a book of great distinction, an important addition to the shelves of books to help us better understand our past."—William Starr, The State

"The definitive work on the architecture of one of America's most distinctive cities."—McCormick Messenger

"Jonathan Poston's The Buildings of Charleston: A Guide to the City's Architecture is regarded as the definitive collection of architectural highlights in Charleston. Using this as a guide, gain a better understanding of architecture from its text and an appreciation of Charleston's history."—Charleston City Paper

"It is—in addition to being a fine guide to Charleston's architecture—an important contribution to the architectural history of Charleston, a study as scintillating as it is solid … If more architectural guidebooks follow Poston's well-established, solid lead, there would be many more informed and enjoyable forays …This is a work to read, mark up, carry about, enjoy, and read again."—Vernacular Architecture Newsletter



book jacket for The Buildings of Charleston


5 1/2 x 9 1/2
718 pages
1,000 illustrations
ISBN 978-1-57003-202-8
cloth, $39.95t
Published in cooperation with the Historic Charleston Foundation

1998 Outstanding Art Publication award from the Mary Ellen Lopresti Award Competition


    Copyright ©2018 The University of South Carolina Press