The small shops of Charleston, South Carolina
Dickerson, Leeann Katherine
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Small shops are an example of vernacular commercial architecture at a micro scale. Though the typology is found across the country, the research for this thesis focuses on those shops which are located in Charleston, South Carolina. Historically, small shops housed the city’s first small businesses. African Americans, European immigrants, and other members of the middle-to-lower class working population built these shops to house such operations as tailors, barbershops, groceries, and doctors offices. Less than a quarter of Charleston’s original small shops remain intact, making it a precious historic resource. Small shops, as an architectural typology, represent a unique building form, which has not yet been identified or thoroughly studied. By closely analyzing the evolution of the small shop’s form, and considering the social histories of three case study sites, this thesis tells of the entrepreneurial risks, successes, and failures associated with the small shop, which helped to shape the overall development of Charleston’s vernacular architectural and commercial landscapes.