Charleston Single House

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  • Two or Three bays wide by 5 bays deep
  • Gable along street
  • Front door on long side of house
  • Large multi-story porch





The Single House (1750-1863) first appeared in the early 18th century, and gradually became the prevalent floor plan for the historic houses of antebellum Charleston. Its earliest form, around 1700, featured one room in width and two rooms in depth, divided by a central stair hall when a good portion of the city was still surrounded by bastions and walls, and space was obviously at a premium.

Although the form can be found across historic Charleston in a variety of styles (e.g., FederalGreek Revival, and Victorian), the consistent feature is interior layout. A front door on the long side of the house, half way along the side perpendicular to the street, opens onto a short central hall and staircase. There is one room on each side of the hall, that is, one toward the street and one toward the rear of the house. The result is a building which is only one room wide when viewed from the street, giving the form its popular name. Each floor contained two rooms, and the floor plan was reproduced on each upper floor.

Although not a part of the earliest single houses, later buildings had two- and three-story porches, known locally as piazzas, added. The piazzas always appear on the side of the house with the front door which, to take best advantage of local winds, will be the south or west side.

Service areas were often located in separate buildings behind the house. A single house would typically be built along one edge of a property, leaving a carriage way along the opposite side of a narrow lot. A piazza, if part of the house, would run the length of the house along the side yard which could be entered from the street. Alternatively, most single houses with piazzas have what appears to be a front door immediately on the street. However, the "front door" is in reality merely a screen between the public sidewalk and the private piazza. The actual front door for the house is located half way along the piazza.

Resource:, July 30, 2016, July 30, 2016


Last modified on Thursday, 06 October 2016 05:56
Mark Smith

Thank you for visiting my website. My name is Mark Smith and my design company is located in Stevensville, Michigan where I reside with my wife and two children. 


Thank you for visiting my website. My name is Mark Smith and I reside in Stevensville, Michigan my wife and two children. I have been interested in Architecture since my boyhood days; however, because of my families business—a lumberyard—I never really got a chance to pursue my dream until later in my career. Read more...


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