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NO. 27 HENRIETTA ST. - Charleston, SC

Between 1957 and 1971, they paved paradise and put up a parking lot. Three of them to be exact. By 1971, nearly 90% of the nineteenth-century dwellings on Henrietta Street in downtown Charleston were demolished for surface parking. No. 27 Henrietta Street stands as one of three antebellum single houses left on a block once populated by over 30.


United States Federal Census records and City of Charleston directory records confirm that Henrietta Street was home to dozens of African-American families both prior to and after the Civil War - including No. 27. By 1900, No. 27 Henrietta served as the primary residence for African-American gardener Alexander Turner (b. 1856), his wife Louisa and their six children. By 1930, a hotel bellman, a laundress, a private cook, a bagger at the Cotton Factory, a bread baker and worker at the local Phosphate Milll rented rooms in the dwelling - a prime location for the city’s working class population. In 1964, the nearby Citadel Square Baptist Church acquired the dwelling and its western neighbors. The neighbors were demolished for a large rear addition to the church, yet No. 27 Henrietta remained.

Throughout the nation, the demand for parking lots quickly began to change American cities in mid-1900s, as green spaces and century-old structures were replaced with empty asphalt. There is no place more changed by the parking lot in Charleston than Henrietta Street, where the dwellings of Charleston’s working class fell victim to the vehicle. Among the 25+ single houses lost during this time period was the home of significant civil rights activist Septima Poinsette Clark (1898-1987). There is a memorial marker for the late leader’s home at the northern edge of the Mother Emanuel AME Church parking lot on Henrietta Street.


No. 27 Henrietta Street serves as a symbol of what Henrietta Street once was, but its condition is rapidly declining. Boarded up and graffitied with a roof covered in a tarp and creeping Spanish Moss, the single house is vacant. Yet, its architectural character remains intact. Despite missing spindles on the balustrade and changes to the first floor piazza, the dwelling COULD be revived and its 1800s character salvaged.


Time is running out, however, and if the dwelling is not saved soon, the once-bustling residential hamlet of Henrietta Street will be known purely as a lifeless parking thoroughfare.


Location: No. 27 Henrietta Street, Downtown Charleston (south side of Henrietta Street, located in rear parking lot of Citadel Square Baptist Church)

Age: Mid-nineteenth Century

Status: Vacant and severely neglected

{Aerial of Henrietta Street, Google Maps}

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