Date of Award

5-2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

City Planning and Real Estate Development

Committee Member

Carter L Hudgins, Committee Chair

Committee Member

R Grant Gilmore III

Committee Member

Barry L Stiefel

Committee Member

Katherine Pemberton

Abstract

Charleston’s canted corner stores are dotted throughout the downtown peninsula, their preservation a testament to the longevity of this vernacular building form and the vibrancy of the commercial mixed use building type. The corner placement and design of these stores capitalized on traffic from busy street intersections, and maximized the potential for the stores to provide essential goods and services to the community. There are significantly fewer of these buildings today than once occupied the downtown landscape. A concentration of corner stores marked King Street as the city’s commercial corridor while the distribution pattern throughout residential neighborhoods emphasized the convenience of these businesses. The canted corner stores contribute to the rich historic building fabric that characterizes Charleston’s urban landscape. These buildings have both a historically symbolic and a continuing functional purpose driving the local economy and still serve their respective neighborhoods. This study closely examines Charleston’s historic Sanborn maps at specific intervals to map functional building change over time, presents the results of an in-depth architectural survey, and contributes four case studies to better understand the histories of extant canted corner stores. These elements of analysis allow the reader to gain a broad understanding of their contribution to the function and character of the urban landscape. Corner stores represent an important period of growth for Charleston from the establishment of South Carolina’s grocery law in 1821 and the evolution of commercial retail from the 19th through the early 20th century. The prevalence of these mixed use buildings helps ensure that downtown Charleston remains a livable city for locals and tourists alike, providing a place for local businesses to thrive. The decline of corner stores correlates directly to changes in everyday consumption, transportation, urban expansion, societal interactions within the community landscape and functionality evolving. The remaining canted corner stores provide historic context for new development and retain their role in the city’s active streetscape.

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