To a region that treasures its roots, the beachfront offers a contrasting culture.

Pricey new dwellings have cropped up to replace old cottages or are constructed on vacant lots.

But a number of early island houses survive, some dating to the early 19th century and before. And a few can be leased by visitors or local people wanting to get away for a few days or a week. One notable example is 1111 Middle Street on Sullivan's Island.

Built in the early 1800s, likely around 1810, the four-bedroom two-bath home is on the western strip of Middle Street that parallels the Atlantic Ocean. "It's historic, just three doors down from Fort Moultrie," says Jeff Boehm, partner with broker-in-charge Tom Rutland in locally-based Sand Dollar Real Estate.

The wood-frame house was built in the days that Charleston residents would own a beach home to escape the summer heat.

"There's sunset views across Charleston Harbor every night," Boehm says. The site is on the back end of Porpoise Point, and it's common to see dolphin jumping out in the harbor, he says. "It's a phenomenal property."

Boehm says the close-to-200-year-old beach house would be a good fit for a few families getting together for a vacation, or Charleston-area residents showcasing the local history and ambiance to out-of-town guests or relatives.

The antebellum dwelling, which has one queen-sized bed and six twin beds, can be rented for a week or three or four days. There's still available dates in March. One drawback to the home as a winter rental is it doesn't have central heat.

Weekly rates are $2,034 in the winter and $4,294 in summer, and $3,164 in fall, spring and holidays. Three-night prices, which aren't available in the summer, range from $1,292 to $1,857 depending on the season. Four-night prices are $1,631 to $2,384.71. A refundable $500 security deposit is required.

"This is an old-school home," Boehm says.

For more information, go online to www.charlestonbeachvacation.com or call 883-3005. Sand Dollar is a small real estate company that has a handful of vacation rentals. The company also leases a number of properties on the Isle of Palms, both beachfront and with ocean views.

The Sullivan's Island house fairly easy to locate. Cross the Ben Sawyer Bridge onto the island and turn right on Middle Street. Continue past 12th Street and look for 1111 Middle, just before Station 11.

Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or jparker@postandcourier.com