The Powder Magazine isn’t Charleston’s oldest building, but its completion date of 1713 is well documented, and it has changed relatively little over time. The Lowcountry’s oldest surviving building is subject to debate. Old records often are vague, incomplete or missing. Buildings often change over time and no longer look like they once did. Do ruins count? Here are some contenders:
The “Pink House” at 17 Chalmers St. certainly looks old, with its simple, 2½-story Bermuda Stone design. It also was built about 300 years ago.
The Col. William Rhett House at 54 Hasell St. was built around 1712-1728, but altered a few generations later.
Medway — This Berkeley County plantation house, privately owned, was built around 1686, only 16 years after the Carolina colony was founded. When it went on the National Register in 1970, it was considered South Carolina’s oldest house on record.
Middleburg Plantation — This two-story frame Berkeley County plantation house also is among the oldest survivors. It was built around 1699, according to the National Register of Historic Places.
The John Lining house at 106 Broad St. lays claim to being the oldest frame structure in Charleston, according to Jonathan Poston’s “The Buildings of Charleston.” Its earliest portion may date back to before 1715, but after additions and renovations, it’s unclear how much original material survives.
Biggin Church — This Berkeley County church was established in 1706, and its building was believed to be completed around 1711. Today, it’s a set of ruins.
St. Andrews Church — The present church dates from 1764, but the first church was built here in 1708, enlarged in 1733 and then burned.
Shell rings — European colonists’ buildings are all newbies compared to the approximately 20 surviving shell rings Native Americans created along South Carolina’s coast more 3,000-4,000 years ago.