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Beauty and history on lower Meeting Street

A little ditty lives in the heads of an entire generation us blessed enough to receive their schooling at First Baptist School of lower Meeting Street: “Water Street/was a creek.” During decades, that was drilled into the heads of thousands by the middle school history teacher, the late, much-beloved Cliff Harris. Enough time spent walking the centuries-old streets with Mr. Haris and one learned to see Charleston history not as an academic endeavor but what it truly is for those of us blessed to live here: The story of our lives, our place and our people.

Further, it is a way of properly seeing. Water Street was a creek. (Vanderhorst’s Creek, specifically. Filled in by 1792.) Say it enough and walk it enough and using the mind’s eye to see that creek still sitting there becomes as natural as breathing.

So it is impossible for me to look at the lovely buff-colored home on the south corner of Meeting and Water Streets without seeing it as it actually never was — perched on a wee bluff at the head of a shimmering tidal creek. It never was so, of course, as the home wasn’t built until the War-Between-the-States era. Of course, Charlestonians with long memories also know this corner as the place where Mary Ravenel was found shot on Nov. 1, 1933; she later died from one .38 bullet that landed in her heart. The murder was never solved and the police files on Brigade Street were destroyed during Hugo.

Trivia aside, the property suffers no loss of beauty for the loss of Vanderhorst Creek (notably a body of water that’s not resurrected during every heavy downpour or king tide, unlike many similarly filled creeks — I’m looking at you, Market Street!). Perhaps this is because of that long-gone creek. Water Street branches eastward off lower Meeting Street (named for the “White Meeting House” which once stood where Circular Congregational Church now is … thanks again, Mr. Harris). Nature being nature, the resulting intersection is much closer to a 45 degree angle than a 90 degree one. This leaves 42 Meeting with an intriguing angular lot, distinctive and visually striking, resulting in the home’s garden “opening up” to Meeting Street.

This unique space is now a grand courtyard of brick and flagstone, centered on a majestic oak with native palmettos offering visual support. Fountains flow, filling the space with the sound of water; an intimate corner is completed with swimming pool. Even at this time of year, with Charleston gardens are at their most dazzling, especially here on lower Meeting, number 42’s outdoor living space holds its own with any in town.

Things are equally gracious on the inside. Sized at a gracious-but-not-ostentatious 3,468 sq. ft., the recently-restored three bedroom home offers everything one could want for modern Downtown living. Formal rooms on the ground floor include a generous dining room and light-filled kitchen retreat. The three bedrooms each have their own bath, with a pair of his-and-hers off the master. The master bedroom also enjoys a private balcony, overlooking the garden.

Gas fireplaces serve to keep things cozy and warm in each bedroom. Coveted off-street parking is tucked off the Water Street side of the home, where a winsome garden house offers extra storage. Currently on offer by Judy Tarleton of Carriage Properties, 42 Meeting is a right-sized Holy City home with an overabundance of charm and an outdoor space like no other.

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