Charleston Fancy: Little Houses and Big Dreams in the Holy City

Charleston Fancy: Little Houses and Big Dreams in the Holy City

by Witold Rybczynski

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A captivating chronicle of building in modern-day Charleston, making a case for architecture based on historical precedent, local context, and the ability to delight

Charleston, South Carolina, which boasts America’s first historic district, is known for its palmetto-lined streets and picturesque houses. The Holy City, named for its profusion of churches, exudes an irresistible charm. Award-winning author and cultural critic Witold Rybczynski unfolds a series of stories about a group of youthful architects, builders, and developers based in Charleston: a self-taught home builder, an Air Force pilot, a fledgling architect, and a bluegrass mandolin player.

Beginning in the 1980s, this cast of characters, exercising a kind of amateur mastery, produced an eclectic array of buildings inspired by the past—including a domed Byzantine drawing room, a fanciful medieval castle, a restored freedman’s cottage, a miniature Palladian villa, and a contemporary Mediterranean street. In his careful profiles of these protagonists and the challenges they have overcome in realizing their dreams, Rybczynski compellingly emphasizes the importance of architecture and urban design on a local level, how an old city can remake itself by invention as well as replication, and the role that individuals still play in transforming the urban landscapes around them.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300229073
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 05/28/2019
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 456,804
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Witold Rybczynski is an architect and emeritus professor of urbanism at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of twenty books, has served as architecture critic for Slate, and has received numerous awards.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Part I

1 George's House 7

2 Tully and Charles 25

3 The Unholy City 41

4 Loving Charleston 52

Part II

5 Palladio and Polystyrene 67

6 Turrets and Domes 80

7 Andrew's World 95

8 The Education of a Developer 109

9 New Urbanism in Old Charleston 117

10 Townscapes 129

Part III

11 The Monopoly Game 151

12 Reid's Dream 166

13 Urban Ergonomics 182

14 Building Catfiddle 198

15 Keeping Charleston 213

Notes on Sources 231

Acknowledgments 237

Illustration Credits 239

Index 240

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Charleston Fancy: Little Houses and Big Dreams in the Holy City 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
bookwomen37 More than 1 year ago
This book was a wonderful surprise. I was expecting the book to focus on southern architecture and homes but I was not expecting Palladian, Moorish, Byzantine and other small homes. The book focuses on three friends who begin rehabbing homes in forgotten areas of the city and soon reinvent urban renewal. The writing is very good and the book is easy to read. Like the city of Charleston the book offers an unexpected surprise. Enjoy
DrKHart More than 1 year ago
The following review will appear on my book review blog on Saturday, May 4, 2019: When I was an undergraduate at Rutgers University studying art history, one of my all time favorite books that I continually went back to and even now, will pick up from time to time were any of Peter Mayle's Provence series. What I loved so much about them was that I was learning about life in Provence as an ex-pat through the life of someone who clearly loved Provence. I was learning through someone else's passion and in so many ways that is the best way to learn because they will never cease to be an endless treasure trove of information about their subject. Charleston, South Carolina I felt the same concept of learning through someone else's passion with Witold Rybczynski's Charleston Fancy. Instead of Provence, we are emersed in the world of Charleston, South Carolina, and its beautiful architecture. Charleston is a town with roots that go back to a time before the 1700's when it was first occupied by British colonists who had landed on the Carolina coast. The city grew and has attracted varieties of people to its warm climate and abundance of different architecture that is notable throughout the town. Rybczynski opens the world of Charleston, South Carolina up to his readers as we are informed about the various types of architecture that are present and the different types of people and characters we meet along the way. The novel brings Charleston to life through small vignettes and glimpses of Rybczynski's cast of characters and homeowners as we are further exposed to the varied world of Charleston and its architecture. Southern Architecture When I think of Charleston, my mind immediately wonders off to verandas, wicker chairs and huge porches that are all sprinkled along tree-lined streets with brick sidewalks and beautiful masonry. While some parts of the south are like this, Rybczynski focuses his book on the surprises that Charleston has to bring us. From the small houses that hide beautiful courtyard verandas to Byzantine and Moorish beauties that are tucked away-- he takes us on a ride through the surprises and beauty that is the prevailing sense of creativity that abounds throughout Charleston's homes and architecture. It is detailed and colorful in his approach to bringing the world of Charleston, South Carolina for those of us who aren't familiar.  Book Information Charleston Fancy: Little Houses and Big Dreams in the Holy City by Witold Rybczynski will be released on May 28, 2019, from Yale University Press with ISBN 9780300229073. This review corresponds to an advanced electronic galley that was supplied by the publisher in exchange for this review.