The peninsular Charleston structures you see today as fine houses or flourishing businesses may claim transient histories: once-sprawling mansions chopped into apartments, commercial quarters redrawn as townhomes, storefronts that mask separate entries to top-end suites.

In some cases, versatile older properties carry an abundance of rooms, so they can accommodate travel-sharing hostels for millennials or provide space for in-house boutiques or shops.

Prospective buyers interested in multi-use arrangements — or simply choosing to rent out an entire house, return the property to its single-family roots or establish a business — could consider 78 Society St. Built in 1908, the two-story walk up is on the market for $2.4 million.

At 2,976 square feet, the stylish residence a few blocks from the College of Charleston "is a little diamond in the rough," says Maria Woodul, Realtor with Carolina One Real Estate. She and Carolina One commercial broker Patrick Bell are co-listing the house. "You don't (need) to do a lot," Woodul says.

The property is described on real estate circulars and websites as a "Charleston single, live-work" design. It's available for "multi-family, retail-commercial, hospitality and duplex" uses.

"We are in an accommodations overlay," Bell says. Decorated as a residence, the property can be rented out on the first or second floor or both, he says. "People can use this for nearly anything," he says.

The property amasses five bedrooms, three full baths and a powder room. A storage area off the kitchen can be converted to another half-bath, Woodul says. The residence also includes a basement, which is not counted in the square footage figure.

Woodul notes in the listing that the "extraordinary property" touts two electrical meters so that a buyer could lease out the house as two properties. The "general business" city zoning provides for broad uses. The building has two accommodations permits in place, so a short-term rental license is not required.

A few features of 78 Society St. highlight its flexible design. The first-level parlor with fireplace boasts double doors, permitting the area to be shut off from the rest of the house. At one time, the space housed a salon, Woodul says.

Additional perks are a steam shower in one of the bedrooms, original wood floors including in the master bedroom and exposed brick in the kitchen. Possible extras would include adding a wine cellar, she says. The house works well for entertaining while providing closed off rooms for youngsters to play and sleep, Woodul points out. "There's so much you can do."

In a write-up of 78 Society St., she notes a few other benefits, including:

  • Double piazzas.
  • Original fireplaces.
  • Private driveway parking.
  • Two available parking spaces in the neighboring garage.
  • Secluded courtyard.

The property stands a block from King Street and two blocks from Market Street. A white picket fence marks the entrance to the house, which showcases a large magnolia, palmetto and shrubs in the cozy front yard. A brick walkway winds around the the back yard, which has a two-story back set of stairs.

Inside, a narrow elongated room on the west side of the house may have been part of an open side porch at one time. The half-dozen or so fireplaces including in the living and dining rooms, feature wood and brick surrounds. Bathrooms boast ceramic tile floors. Meanwhile, in a back corner of the house, there's a small art deco studio with small refrigerator, table and sink.

According to the listing, 78 Society St. currently is being used as a short term rental, plus 430 or so square feet on the main floor is being converted for commercial use.

"There are so many limitless possibilities and ideas for this cool place," Woodul says.

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Reach Jim Parker at 843-937-5542 or


Agents: Maria Woodul, Patrick Bell

Office: Carolina One Real Estate

Phones: Woodul (843-297-1836); Bell (843-817-2112).