History isn’t as boring as it sounds. It often comes accompanied by interesting stories and fun facts no one knew about. It does more than teach us about the past, it also gives us perspective as to why it’s unique. And as any Charlestonian knows, Charleston is one city deep in history and filled with untold stories that people love to hear about. From hundred-year-old ghost stories to Civil War tales, Charleston never fails to impress us. However, in this edition of Historic Home Stories, we’re focusing on the houses themselves. Here are some fun facts you probably haven’t heard of:
Sky Blue Porch Ceilings
One stroll through Charleston neighborhoods like Harleston Village or South of Broad, and you’ll probably notice that a lot of the ceilings of the front porches are painted a sky blue. You would probably guess that it was once a Southern tradition to do so, but what you might be interested to find out are the reasons why. The specific choice of sky blue as the porch ceiling color stems from a series of superstitions and ideas.
The most notable reason why the porches were painted sky blue was the fear of bugs, such as hornets and spiders. It was the belief that if the porch ceiling was painted like the sky, then the bugs wouldn’t nest there — since they are looking for a “solid” place to live. No one wants to live in the sky, right? However, there is no scientific proof that this works — as is evident with the many mud daubers still building their nests in the corners. Why it might have worked back in the “old” days is because they used to mix lime into the paint, so that may have driven them off.
The second reason why you see lots of Charleston houses with blue front porches stems from the local Gullah culture in the area. Often referred to as “Haint” blue, the distinct color was meant to drive away evil spirits. (A haint is a spirit or ghost). Sometimes homeowners will even paint their front door or trim Haint blue for extra protection. Though a little more rare, it still can be seen around many Charleston historic homes.
Overall, the front porch has always played a significant role in Charleston culture. It’s a common sight to see neighbors sitting out on their front porch, admiring the local scenery, and sipping some sweet tea. Maybe the sky blue just reminds them of the sky — and of bright, good old days. There’s nothing more joyous than relaxing in the outdoors in the comfort of your home!
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