Chalmers Street is one of my favorite streets in downtown Charleston. It’s picturesque anytime of the year. It also happens to be the city’s longest cobblestone street (high heels not recommended).
Start at Washington Square, a quaint park in the heart of Charleston’s historic district. If you need to use the restroom, take full advantage of the public bathroom at City Hall. Otherwise proceed through the park to Chalmers Street.
At Meeting and Chalmers is the headquarters of the South Carolina Historical Society, known to locals as the “Fireproof Building.” Designed by South Carolina architect Robert Mills (who also designed the Washington Monument), this building claims to be the first fireproof structure in America. The structure is entirely void of wood. Instead, Mills used bricks and stucco for the structure, metal for the window sashes and shutters, iron railing, and stone imported from New England for the interior stairs. This building is currently undergoing renovation and will be open to the public again in 2018.
Continue your walk east towards Church Street. You’ll pass several Charleston single houses. These structures were built in the city before the Revolutionary War. They are called single houses because they are one room wide with a side piazza (fancy Charleston word for a porch). If you’re visiting in the spring, you’ll smell the fragrant tea olives in bloom and spot bright pink azaleas and the yellow blooms of Carolina Jasmine. During the summertime, Chalmers Street is lined with pink and white Crepe Myrtles and Oleander.
Walk across Church Street to explore the next block. The small, pink house on the right (17 Chalmers) dates from 1712 and is one of the oldest structures in Charleston. The exterior is built partly of Bermuda coral limestone. Over the years, this building has been a tavern, art studio, and private residence.
On the left is the Old Slave Mart Museum. Known as Ryan’s Mart in 1856, slave auctions took place here. Today, it is a museum devoted to teaching others about the history of the slave trade in Charleston.
Chalmers Street ends at State Street. Take one last look and then go treat yourself to an iced coffee at Normandy Farms Bakery on Broad.