September 17, 2013 Slideshows » News+Opinion

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History Attic: Poinsett Street 

Two Charleston cottages have been demolished and were replaced in the 1970s with modest houses at 28 and 30; the cottage at 27 has also been demolished but is now a vacant lot.
This vacant house, now covered in vinyl siding with the all-too-common-in-these-neighborhoods electric utility box planted on the front façade, was owned for decades by Georgia Richardson, at times a dressmaker, at other times a midwife, and for a while married to a younger man from the West Indies. Occasionally, Ms. Richardson would take in boarders for additional income. In 1940, one of them worked for the fertilizer mill; the other was a bricklayer.
A most curious building, with battens nailed to the entire façade over tar paper in an attempt, perhaps, to weatherproof it. Surely, this is just temporary, but for how long? The piazza screen has been upgraded to brick, although it has been many years since any improvements have been made. In the early 1900s, George Sanders owned the house; he was a pile driver in 1920. Later, it was rented for over a decade to Joseph Thompson, a grave digger, and his wife Louise and five children.
A most curious building, with battens nailed to the entire façade over tar paper in an attempt, perhaps, to weatherproof it. Surely, this is just temporary, but for how long? The piazza screen has been upgraded to brick, although it has been many years since any improvements have been made. In the early 1900s, George Sanders owned the house; he was a pile driver in 1920. Later, it was rented for over a decade to Joseph Thompson, a grave digger, and his wife Louise and five children.
This Charleston cottage miraculously has its original windows; they have not yet been replaced with vinyl "window units" from which it takes homeowners 30 years to recover the energy "savings" from the "investment." Some of the wood siding may be original as well. The house was a rental property for years. In 1930, Solomon Washington, who worked for the streetcar system, lived here with his wife Agnes and son Julius, paying just $7 in rent. By 1940, two families were renting this small house. Virginia Gaillard, 32, and her three children lived in one part of the house; the other part was rented by three young men who worked for the city stables.
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This house sits back somewhat from the street and was owned by Jacob and Patsy McGowan in the early decades of the 1900s. By 1930 the property was being rented by Richard Robinson, who worked for the railroad, and later in 1940 by Charles Murdock, a laborer at the Navy Yard. Rent was just $8 per month.
This cottage is a vision of what Poinsett Street once was, and what it can become. One of the founders of the Naval Reserve Club lived here at the beginning of the 20th century; later, a series of renters called this cottage home. Phosphate mills, fertilizer plants, and Standard Oil employed its tenants.
The Green Chapel Baptist Church is the cultural anchor of Poinsett Street. It is a two-story structure with a brick façade with Georgian-esque windows and details, and has been expanded a number of times. It is an active church and provides stability to the neighborhood.
The exterior has been altered, but the simplicity of the Charleston cottage form is easily identifiable. Richard Rivers, a wood dealer, owned the house and lived here for many years with his wife, Maggie. By 1930, she was a widow, and she prized owning a property valued at $1,000. Her son William worked on a farm; other children were Anna, Nesbit, Beatrice, and Marguerite. In 1940, Maggie was working as a laundress at the Citadel.
Boarded up and waiting for a new family to call it home, this Charleston cottage also retains its wooden siding and tall piazza ceiling. In 1940 this was home to the only white family on the street. John Rubens, a truck driver for an ice company, rented the house and lived here with his wife Louise and two daughters.
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Owned by James Mack, a ship joiner at the Navy Yard in the 1910s and 1920s, this cottage is another bright spot on an otherwise faded block. After the Macks moved out, renters moved in, including Jessie Baker, a laundress from Georgia in 1930 and Frank Anderson, a butcher, in 1940.
This is the largest house on the block and a demolition permit was denied last week by the B.A.R. It was probably built by Julius Pinckney, whose family owned it for nearly a century. Pinckney was a house carpenter. By 1940, the house was divided into four rental units. The tenants were Ida Morris, a private family cook and her four children; James Waring, who worked at a paper mill and his wife and two children; William White, a Navy Yard laborer and his wife and daughter; and Joseph Gregory, who worked at a timber mill, and his wife and six children.
Another boarded up, vacant Charleston cottage. For some years it was rented by Edward Sawyer, who was selling soft drinks in 1924. By 1930 it was rented by Ida Simmons, a young widow who was paying $10 a month in rent. Her son Elijah was a delivery boy for a local grocery store. In 1940, a fertilizer mill employee, Henry Akin, rented the house with his wife Victoria, son Buddy, and an unrelated boarder.
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This Charleston cottage miraculously has its original windows; they have not yet been replaced with vinyl "window units" from which it takes homeowners 30 years to recover the energy "savings" from the "investment." Some of the wood siding may be original as well. The house was a rental property for years. In 1930, Solomon Washington, who worked for the streetcar system, lived here with his wife Agnes and son Julius, paying just $7 in rent. By 1940, two families were renting this small house. Virginia Gaillard, 32, and her three children lived in one part of the house; the other part was rented by three young men who worked for the city stables.
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