No. 15 RADCLIFFE ST. - Charleston, SC
Constructed c.1910 by Rev. Henry W.B. Bennett, a Black religious leader born in Charleston during the Civil War and a leader in the area’s African Methodist Episcopal churches, No. 15 Radcliffe Street served as the primary residence for Bennett, his wife Chloe and six children. Unfortunately, Bennett died shortly after the house was constructed and in the 1920s, Bennett’s wife rented portions of the house as apartments - advertised as spaces only available to Black citizens. In 1992, a Post & Courier article confirmed the house was vacant but that descendants wished to return to Charleston to reside in the family home once again. The dwelling was sold by the family in 2018.
The yellow Queen Anne dwelling is the last building standing between King and St. Philip Streets, a block historically occupied by more than a dozen dwellings for Charleston’s nineteenth and twentieth century middle class. Black, Jewish, German and Irish-Catholic families once brought this block to life, their children recalling in the 1992 article playing ball against the stoops and basketball in the streets. Today, the dwellings of a diverse neighborhood are gone as No. 15 Radcliffe Street is completely surrounded by surface parking. Every square inch bounding No. 15 Radcliffe Street is asphalt.
The dwelling was described in 1992 as a “13-room pure Victorian" needing “just a few touches." Thirty years later, however, those "few touches” have unfortunately grown to include several significant repairs. Fallen yellow Queen Anne shingles shower the sidewalk surrounding the dwelling. Large panels of metal roof flashing wave in the wind. Wood rot and significant weathering engulf the portico. Vines grow along the cornice and front gable.
As the last standing structure on the block, it not only is an exceptional example of Queen Anne architecture in Charleston, but it also disrupts the surrounding monotone streetscape of asphalt. It is an anchor and the last bit of hope in a lost neighborhood.
Keep your eye on this gem, Charleston. If you happen to walk by, be sure to send it loving vibes.