The Colorful History of Rainbow Row

Located along the west side of East Bay Street, between Tradd Street and Elliot Street, not far from the Waterfront Park, Rainbow Row consists of 13 private residences that make up one of the most famous landmarks in Charleston. 

Believe it or not, Rainbow Row was not always so bright and beautiful. Constructed in the mid-18th century on 83-107 East Bay Street, it was originally a commerce center on the waterfront built to serve the docks of the port of Charleston. Merchants lived on the second floor and had their stores on the first floor of the buildings. Sadly, after the Civil War and until the early 1900s, Rainbow Row was a very run-down area of Charleston.

Dorothy Porcher Legge owned houses 99 through 101. To improve the homes, she painted them a bright pastel pink, which was from the colonial Caribbean color scheme at the time. Others in the area began following in her footsteps by painting their houses beautiful pastel colors to improve the overall appearance of the neighborhood.  But the coloring was not just for aesthetics. The light colors helped keep the interior of the houses cooler.

Today, a city ordinance protects the color of each house on Rainbow Row, making it one of the most recognizable and photographed sights in Charleston.  Join Bulldog Tours to learn all about Rainbow Row and other Charleston Attractions.

The History of the Rainbow Row Houses 83 to 107 on East Bay Street:

#83 East Bay Street
Known as the William Stone House, it was constructed in 1784 by one of the merchants who left for England during the American Revolutionary War.

#87 East Bay Street
Constructed in 1778 and it was eventually destroyed by a fire. It was James Gordon who purchased the building in 1792 and went on to restore it before it was bought over by Susan Pringle Frost in the 1920s.

#89 East Bay Street
Called the Deas-Tunno House and it was constructed as a commercial building in 1770. This property is unique from the other homes on Rainbow because it actually has a yard that separates it from the adjoining home.

#91 East Bay Street
Purchased by William Greenwood and Peter Leger in 1774 and destroyed 4 years later. A merchant called Nathaniel Russell purchased the building in 1973, although it was passed on to Susan Pringle Frost in 1920.

#93 East Bay Street
Called the James Cook House and it was constructed in 1778 for commercial purposes. Today, it is the yellow house.

#95 East Bay Street
No one knows who actually built it. It was purchased by Charles Cotesworth Pinckney in 1779 and was restored by John McGowan, in 1938. Today, this is the green house.

Learn all about the colorful history of this historic street on the Charleston Strolls Walking Tour.

Experience King Street in Charleston, SC

king street in charleston, sc(photo courtesy of the Charleston Tourism Board)

Known for its eclectic vibe, easy access, and cultural value, it’s easy to see why Charlestonians love the King Street neighborhood.  If you are a foodie, Upper King Street is home to many of Charleston’s best restaurants. On Saturdays, locals shop the Marion Square Farmers Market for fresh food and local wares. Significant steps in the revitalization of Upper King have turned it into the lively hub it is today.

More than 200 years old, King Street was named after King Charles II of England and was the main route of Charles Towne. Many of the buildings are commercial, with residential living on the upper floors. Today, Upper King Street continues to be home to mostly local businesses and remains a work-where-you-live neighborhood.

Upper King Street hosts almost every type of business from tech firms to interior designers, to architects, to collaborative workspaces.  Many residents take advantage of the opportunity to walk to work.

When visiting, King Street is the ideal home base from which to explore the Charleston area. It also boasts some of the city’s newest and trendiest restaurants along with hotels, art galleries, shopping, businesses, and a thriving nightlife. With its close proximity to the College of Charleston, a younger crowd frequents King Street during the school year.

The neighborhood features new construction as well as restored historic homes.  While other areas of Charleston have become populated by national and regional chains, Upper King remains home to mostly local businesses. In addition to world-class shopping and dining, Upper King has plenty more to offer.  Some highlights include:

William Aiken House: this 1810 National Historic Landmark is now a coveted wedding and event venue.

Charleston Music Hall: This 19th-century train station is now a  live music venue.

Marion Square: hosts weekly farmers market on Saturdays along with numerous annual festivals.

Francis Marion Hotel: This 12-story building was built in 1925 and fully restored and modernized in 1996.

So make it point to explore King Street on your next visit to Charleston, SC, and the experience the city like a local.

A Taste of Charleston

At Charleston Food Tours we offer a variety of culinary tours of Charleston with knowledgeable tour guides and delicious samples of Lowcountry cuisine. Join us as we walk, talk and taste our way through history! Our mission is to promote local artisan growers and producers and to help preserve South Carolina’s rich culinary heritage. On our exclusive culinary tours, you will experience the Lowcountry’s distinctive food and warm hospitality. These informative tours are ideal for casual fans of the culinary arts or the hardcore foodie in your life. It would be difficult to find a southern city better suited for culinary tourism than historic Charleston, SC. Our tours include the Savor the Flavors of Downtown Charleston tour, the Savor the Flavors of Upper King Street tour, the Chef’s Kitchen tour and the Charleston Dessert tour.Lowcountry Food Charleston South Carolina

On the Savor the Flavors of Downtown Charleston tour and the Savor the Flavors of Upper King Street Tour we will take you through the streets of Charleston stopping at favorite local restaurants and sampling a wide array of Lowcountry favorites. Our fully licensed tour guides will inform you on the history of the city, the evolution of food in the Charleston area and the origins of some of our favorite foods.

On the Downtown tour, we will take you to French Quarter hot spots such as Another Broken Egg, Lowcountry Bistro, Cumberland Smokehouse, and Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit. On the Upper King Street tour, we visit trendy restaurants such as Vincent Chicco’s, Virginia’s on King, Smoke BBQ, and Cupcake. You will not leave either of these tours hungry! Typical tastings include grits, fried green tomatoes, pimento cheese, BBQ, she-crab soup, cornbread, red rice,

crab dip, chicken and dumplings, collard greens, crabcake sliders, jambalaya, praline, and much more. These tours are a great way to experience the city and provide a unique historical perspective. They also allow you to try several foods that you might not have ordered on your own.Lowcountry Burger Charleston South Carolina

The Chef’s Kitchen tour is a special behind the scenes tour geared for the culinary enthusiast. On this tour, you will visit several great restaurants, including Magnolia’s, where you will explore the history of the restaurant, learn about the chef’s approach to culinary excellence, have the menus interpreted by a pro, and get a close-up peek at just what it takes to produce those fabulous meals. The Charleston Kitchen Tour begins with coffee and artisan pastries at a local coffee shop, Welkin Coffee. This is an excellent option for those who want an in-depth look into the mind of a chef, however, it is not a sampling tour. Some samples may be provided but they are not always guaranteed.

If you prefer sweet over savory then join us as we visit the finest dessert places frequented by Charleston locals on the Charleston Dessert Tour. Indulge in samples from the culinary artisans that create these delectable treats, including coconut cake, pralines, truffles, pecan pie, petit fours, and more. Our guides will regale you with notes about 18th-century traditions and the history of desserts and spices in the Lowcountry including their origins and original uses.

At Charleston Food Tours, we have worked diligently to showcase the places and foods that give Charleston its character. Lowcountry cuisine is like no other and taking a tour with us will give you a deeper understanding historically as to why the food here is so unique. You have heard about what Charleston has to offer, now get out and experience it with us! Your taste buds will thank you.

**Please note that the restaurants and samples on each tour will vary daily.

The Best Videos of Charleston’s Old City Jail

Charleston’s Old City Jail, one of the most haunted historical buildings in our country, has certainly caught the eye of Hollywood’s travel and paranormal fanatics. The jail first graced the silver screen in the mini-series, “Glory,” highlighting its use as an insane asylum during the Civil War. In recent years the jail has been investigated by “Ghost Hunters,” “Ghost Adventures,” “Paranormal State,” The Travel Channel, and “Ghost Brothers.” All the shows agreed: the jail is haunted!

When “Ghost Hunters” investigated the jail, scratches appeared on all the investigators’ bodies during this episode. A black mass also passed by on camera. They concluded the building was definitely haunted, and guests needed to treat it with respect because evil people were held there in life and their spirits should be treated as evil afterlife as well.

When “Ghost Adventures” explored Charleston’s most haunted building, they were successful in finding some very creepy evidence of what they believe is the ghost of Lavinia Fisher on their sound monitors. Check out the Travel Channel’s “Ghost Adventures” show at the Old City Jail in 2011.

Paranormal State” claimed they were in contact with the spirits of enslaved African Americans that were imprisoned in the jail. They said they found ghosts that felt as though they were being tortured and held against their will.

Samantha Brown of The Travel Channel toured the jail, saying “If you’re gonna be scared to death in the South, Bulldog Tours leads the most frightening ghost tour in all of Charleston, the Old City Jail.”

Some other notable videos regarding the jail are:

Still in doubt? Come see for yourself. Book one of our Haunted Jail Tours today.

Kicking Off the ‘Busy’ Season

We are excited to begin another full spring season at Bulldog Tours! March officially begins the busy season here in Charleston as we welcome the Charleston Wine + Food, which brings many tourists and locals out to downtown Charleston to frequent the city’s multitude of restaurants, shops and attractions.

Of course, Easter is in April so we’ll be welcoming families for a week of fun in Charleston. College spring breaks are often before Easter, so we notice more college students visiting the city as early as March.

St. Patrick’s Day is another holiday that brings people to Charleston to visit some of our wonderful Irish Pubs, such as Tommy Condon’s. Visitors – and locals – love to celebrate this festive holiday, so make your plans early. Easter weekend is a big one in the Holy City. Services in one of our many churches on the peninsula will be packed.

Runners in town for the Cooper River Bridge Run on April 1 will fill downtown Charleston and Marion Square, which is the finish line for this annual race. Last year, close to 30,000 people ran or walked in the event. You’ll be sure to see many runners at the local brunch spots afterward. And if you aren’t a part of the race, watch out for traffic entering and exiting the city for hours before and after the race.

As May gets underway, Charleston gets ready for summer and, by Memorial Day Weekend, the area’s restaurants, shops and attractions will be in full swing, ready to accept all the summer vacationers.

So here’s to another busy season in Charleston! Cheers!

Looking for Another ‘Best Of’ Kind of Year

The presidential election year is over, but we sure hope you aren’t tired of voting because we have just one more vote for you to cast. Vote for Bulldog Tours as Best Tour Company. That’s right, folks! The Charleston City Paper’s “Best of Charleston” contest is back, and we need your vote by Feb. 24. Find us in the Attractions and City Living Category under Best Tour Company. We’ve won every year since 2010, but what can we say? We love to win, and we hope to bring home the honors once again in 2017. You do not have to vote in multiple categories for your vote to count. Just vote! It’s quick and easy.

Wondering if we deserve to take home the title another year? Check out the Top 10 Reasons Bulldog Tours is the Best Tour Company in Charleston. We showcase the best of Charleston everyday as we give tours to visitors from around the world. It’s our specialty, and we take pride in our tours and our tour guides – some of the most experienced in the city. Check out this video if you need even more convincing.

If it’s been awhile since you experienced Bulldog’s hospitality, come join us for Free Night for Locals on Monday, Feb. 13. Pick from the Ghost and Graveyard Tour, the Dark Side of Charleston Tour or the Haunted Jail Tour at multiple times. These tours are for residents of Charleston, Dorchester or Berkeley counties – and you’ll need the ID to prove it. This offer is good for tours on Feb. 13 only; guests cannot reschedule to another night for free.

Groups of six or more must be booked under one reservation so the group can stay together. If you are touring with friends, make sure you let us know at the time of the reservation or we cannot guarantee the same tour. All groups will be called 48 hours in advance and numbers will have to be confirmed at that time. And, only one tour per person that night. Reservations are required. Call 843-722-8687 to reserve your spot. Space is limited and reservations go very fast.

We look forward to another great year touring our beautiful city with you!

Lavinia Fisher Night at Bulldog Tours

For the third year, we’ll be offering a special paranormal investigation of the Old City Jail on the anniversary of Lavina Fisher’s death, Feb. 18. This year, that day happens to fall on a Saturday, so we are offering the investigation on both Friday and Saturday nights (Feb. 17 and Feb. 18). The investigations will begin at 11 p.m. and last until 2 a.m. Cost is $35 per person. Space is limited and reservations are going fast. We highly recommend calling as soon as possible to grab your spot.

In 1820, Lavina was hanged for her crimes as the first female serial killer in the United States. Reportedly a beautiful woman, Lavina was married to John Fisher. Together, they operated a hotel, the Six Mile House. During their time managing the hotel, the police received many reports about disappearing hotel guests. There are many versions of the story as to how Lavinia and John murdered the unlucky guests, but two of the more popular accounts were that she poisoned their tea and that once they fell asleep her husband would stab them or that they would pull a lever so their bed dropped them into a pit with spikes.

6 Mile House

Redention of the Six Mile House by Juliee Boatright

There are stories of a few who managed to escape the Fishers, which is how the murdering couple was ultimately captured and held in the Old City Jail until they were both publically hanged.

We look forward to sharing these stories and more during our special paranormal investigation on the anniversary of Lavina Fisher’s death. Please call 843-722-8687 for reservations and more information.

Looking Forward to 2017!

jail-bw-front

We are really looking forward to 2017 at Bulldog Tours. Some of our plans for the new year include:

  • Free Night for Locals – This year’s Free Night for Locals is Monday, Feb. 13. Locals are required to present ID at check-in. Locals must be from Charleston, Dorchester or Berkeley Counties.
  • Lavinia Fisher Night – Join us for a special paranormal investigation of the Old City Jail on the anniversary of Lavinia Fisher’s death on Feb. 18. The three-hour event starts at 10 p.m. and the cost is $25 per person. Come and investigate with us! Call 843-722-8687 for information and reservations.
  • Military Night – Watch for a special military night in February or early March. All active and retired military will enjoy half-off tickets for our history and nighttime ghost tours. More information to come!
  • Ladies Night – We’re working on a special springtime event for the ladies. We’ll be offering half-off tickets for ladies on all our night tours, but especially our Dark Side of Charleston Tour and our pub tours! More to come on this special event as well.
  • Mother’s Day – All moms can tour for free on Mother’s Day (nighttime and history tours).
  • Father’s Day – All dads can tour for free on Father’s Day (nighttime and history tours).
  • Summer Photo Contest – This past summer’s photo contest was a huge hit! We look forward doing it again this summer and seeing visitors’ great Charleston photos. The contest winner receives a free trip to Charleston, including two nights at a downtown hotel, dinner for two at a downtown restaurant and tickets for our tours. More information to come!
  • Report Card Program – At the end of the summer we will offer free tickets for kids if they send us a photo of their all A’s and B’s report cards. Please stay tuned to our Facebook page for more information this summer.
  • Veterans Day – Military tour free on this holiday for our night and history tours.
  • Black Friday Special – Buy a gift card for a future tour (not for Black Friday) at half off – that includes culinary, history and ghost tours.
  • Holiday Strolls Tour – Every year we offer a special holiday Charleston Strolls Tour during the entire month of December. We highlight downtown decorations and special Charleston Christmas history tales and facts. The tour ends at the beautifully decorated Mills House Hotel where guests enjoy Christmas cookies and egg nog.

We look forward to all that 2017 has to offer. Stay tuned as we add other events throughout the year, including special philanthropy opportunities. Thank you for making 2016 a great year! We hope to see you soon!

Stay in touch with use via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Bulldog Tours is Charleston’s Choice

choice-thank-you

We are excited to announce we won the Charleston’s Choice contest in the category of Best Tour Company. The contest, sponsored by The Post and Courier, recognizes the Lowcountry’s top choices in more than 300 categories.

The contest consisted of three rounds of voting. The first round and naming of the nominees was in the spring. We asked our fans for their votes and they came through, pushing into the second round of voting over the summer. Winners were announced on Sept. 25 in a special edition of The Post and Courier.

This was the first year The Post and Courier held this contest, and we were honored to be named the first tour company to win. Other area businesses that took home Charleston’s Choice accolades were Hanks Seafood and Charleston Stage.

We are looking forward to celebrating with all the other winners at the Charleston’s Choice party at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29 at TD Arena in downtown Charleston. The event is open to the public; tickets are $75 per person. The party will feature food tastings, cocktails and live entertainment by DJ NattyHeavy and Ben Fagan and the Holy City Hooligans.

We can’t wait to participate in next year’s contest. Thank you to everyone who voted for us. Cheers to another great year of touring our wonderful City of Charleston!

 

New Upper King Street Pub Tour

king-st-pub-tour

We are excited to announce our Upper King Street Pub Tour coming to the popular Upper King area of downtown Charleston. We couldn’t be happier to add this tour to our repertoire. The Upper King Street area has been taking the city by storm ever since more bars and restaurants started opening up there about 10 years ago. Now, this trendy portion of King Street is the place to be and be seen. So we can’t wait to take our customers on a tour of the cool, new establishments in the north part of town.

The Upper King Street Pub Tour will focus on Charleston’s seedy and sordid history. We’ll discuss prohibition, bootlegging and the old speakeasies. Learn about the sultry history of Charleston’s brothels and the city’s crime and torture while sipping on a craft beer or a glass of wine.

We’ll visit Charleston Beer Works, 492, Smoke BBQ and Prohibition. The tour will start on the front steps of the Charleston Visitors Center. The tour is from 4-6:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and costs $25 (not including alcohol).

Charleston Beer Works has a laid back vibe focused on cold beer, good food and sports. This is a great place to meet and watch a Saturday football game in the fall. The beauty of 492 is definitely different from the atmosphere at Charleston Beer Works. This classic restaurant/bar has an upscale quality, yet maintains a friendly and welcoming environment. You’ll want to try a mixed drink here and maybe one of the delicious appetizers.

Next on the tour is Smoke BBQ with a hard rock décor theme and divine barbecue. The bar is comfortable and familiar – like you’ve been there a 100 times even if it’s your first visit. Lastly, Prohibition is a great place to talk about, well, prohibition, of course. The selection at Prohibition is vast. This place has everything you could ask for in beer, cocktails and wine. Enjoy culinary delights and fine live music. The restaurant’s theme: Prohibition celebrates the bacchanalian decadence of the 1920s.

Join us on our new Upper King Street Pub Tour. Please book soon for your Friday or Saturday reservation at 4 p.m. Space is limited to just 12 people. Call 843-722-8687 or book your Upper King Street Pub Crawl online.