Fabulous, restored, renovated and impeccably maintained, The James Cook House c. 1782-7 is one of the most desirable Charleston addresses along Rainbow Row, the longest cluster of intact Georgian row houses in the United States. The home is listed in This is Charleston, published by the Carolina Art Association, as Buildings Considered Notable.
The charming ivy covered walled garden was designed by Loutrell Briggs, Charleston’s Premier Landscape Architect, associated with many of Charleston’s most famous private gardens; the shelving along the brick wall are remnants of the old kitchen house, now adorned with potted plants. At end of the garden is a reflective mirror enhancing the rear of the home, brick courtyard and walled gardens.
Today the home consists of dine-in gourmet kitchen, keeping room and powder room on first level with three sets of French doors opening onto a brick courtyard and walled garden. The second level consists of living room and dining room with two fireplaces and French door access to balcony with iron handrails overlooking rear garden.
The third level consists entirely of master suite with luxury bathroom, walk-in dressing room/closet and laundry alcove. The top level consists of two guest bedrooms with private bathrooms. Spectacular views of the city roof tops and gardens increase with interest at each level including Charleston Harbor and Fort Sumter views from the fourth level front bedroom.
At the end of the Civil War the property was in a damaged and depressed state. Not until 1938, to prevent demolition, did serious remodeling begin, largely due to the efforts of Susan Pringle Frost, founder of the Charleston Preservation Society, who came up with the idea of painting the houses in different colors, reflecting a Carribean influence, hence the term Rainbow Row.
Prior to the remodeling, the rear façade and garden areas of Rainbow Row were used as the design for the set of the original 1937 performance of George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess – 93 E Bay Street was Porgy’s house. Archeological investigations of the cellar of the house have uncovered the original foundation along with a collection of pieces of clay smoking pipes, china and glass shards and bullets. Original 18th Century hand hewn rafters, brickwork and heart pine flooring have been uncovered and preserved.