4 Green Way

Former Residence Hall “The Shack”

Since purchasing the house in 1901, the College has used it as a residence hall, faculty apartments, barracks, fencing court, lab and offices. Ill-treated by student residents in the early 20th century, the house was known as “The Shack.”

This house’s first owner was David D. Bailey, who purchased Lot 24 from the College in 1817 and, not long afterward, had this fine Charleston single house built for his young family. A decade later, after Bailey’s death, the house was offered for sale as a “handsome, well finished, three story Brick House.” The College of Charleston was a struggling institution in the 1820s, but the ad for the sale of the Bailey house extolled its location just north of the site where Randolph Hall would soon be built: “a most desirable residence, being one of the highest and most healthy in town. The water is excellent, and the neighborhood good. There is also a handsome garden, with several orange trees bearing in front of the piazza, and from the house a fine view of Ashley River and Johns Island.”

In 1901, the College purchased the house from Hannah Trieste and opened 4 Green St. as a dormitory where out-of-town students could live and take their meals. One resident who later became a CofC professor, Robert Coleman, recalled nailing a shoe to the fireplace in his room so that he “could lean back in my chair and put my foot in the shoe which the fire kept warm at all times.” Students dubbed the house “The Shack” and formed a “Shack Club.” In 1917, during World War I, the club’s yearbook photo lists the motto “Drink, smoke and be merry, for tomorrow you may get shot.” That same year, when the dining costs exceeded the rates students were paying, the College discontinued serving meals, but in 1918, meal service resumed, this time subsidized by the U.S. military’s Student Army Training Corps program. The College received $1.30 per day to feed and house each student who slept at 4 Green St. and in other makeshift barracks on campus. The military program ended in late 1918, but students continued to live at 4 Green St.

“The Shack” remained a site of rowdy behavior. Board of Trustees minutes from 1921 report, “It seems clear that the system of student-government which gave entire latitude of action to the student-boarders is not suited to the reckless, irresponsible spirit of the present-day undergraduate.” Because of “wanton destruction of Dormitory property and a serious infringement of the rights of the Dormitory neighbors,” the College closed the dormitory and barred these students from living there when it reopened the following year. (Members of “The Ex-Shack Club” in a 1921 yearbook photo are probably these badly behaved students. Their stated motto: “We will do anything but what is right; if we ever did a good deed, we are sorry.”)

By 1929, 4 Green St. held faculty offices and science lab rooms. The 1936 Board of Trustees minutes report repairs and renovations to the building courtesy of New Deal employment programs; there was now space for the Dramatic Society, the college magazine and yearbook, a fencing court, and an apartment for a faculty member who presumably prevented the “wanton destruction” of earlier years. For the next three decades the building was mainly used for offices and classrooms, then as housing for faculty who might not otherwise be willing to come to the College, where salaries were considered low. In 1960, the building was converted into the first women’s residence hall.

New dormitory space for women opened in 1967, and this house was again used for offices. In 1974, President Ted Stern engaged the firm of well-known African American contractor and Charleston architect H. A. DeCosta to restore 4 Green Way to its original appearance.

Green and College Streets were converted into pedestrian walkways in 1971, paved in herringbone-patterned brick. Brick or stucco was also used in new structures – residence halls, a new library, a classroom building – surrounding the remaining old buildings. For its historic buildings, the campus was designated a National Historic Landmark.

Currently, 4 Green Way houses offices for mathematics faculty.

Audio

Audio version of this essay The audio version of this essay was voiced by Joy Vandervort-Cobb, associate professor of theatre at the College of Charleston.

Images

4 Green Way, 2019
4 Green Way, 2019 Today this building houses offices for the Department of Mathematics. Courtesy of the College of Charleston.
“Familiar Scenes” in 1925
“Familiar Scenes” in 1925 4 Green St., pictured center, is still being called “The Shack” in the 1925 yearbook. Courtesy of College of Charleston Libraries, Special Collections.
4 Green Street in 1826
4 Green Street in 1826 4 Green St. was sold following the death of David Bailey, the first owner. At that time the house a “handsome garden, with several orange trees bearing in front of the piazza, and . . . a fine view of Ashley River and Johns Island.” Charleston Courier, March 21, 1826.
Circa 1801 Plat of College Lands
Circa 1801 Plat of College Lands Lot 24, shown on this ca. 1801 plat, is where the 4 Green house would be built after David D. Bailey bought the lot from the College in 1817. The property sold in 1827 to Dr. John W. Schmidt, who used it as a rental property. In 1849 Abram Moise, whose uncle Abraham Moise resided nearby, purchased the house, but he lived only a few years after moving in. His widow, Louisa, sold the property to James Martin, whose first cousin, South Carolina Gov. William Aiken, owned two rental houses on the same block. Martin died while residing at 4 Green St., and his widow, Leonora, sold their home in 1863. The house was a rental property again until 1875, when Maier Trieste bought it as a residence for himself and his wife, Hannah. Hannah Trieste sold the building to the College of Charleston in 1901. Courtesy of Charleston County Register of Deeds, McCrady Plat Collection #222.
4 Green St.
4 Green St. This snapshot was taken prior to the 1970s renovations. Courtesy of College of Charleston Libraries, Special Collections.
4 Green St. in 1970s
4 Green St. in 1970s Taken after 4 Green St. was renovated by the firm of Herbert DeCosta, who was responsible for the renovation and restoration of many historic structures on campus and throughout the Charleston area. His papers are at The Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture. Courtesy of College of Charleston Libraries, Special Collections. Courtesy of College of Charleston Libraries, Special Collections.
4 Green Way, Mid-1970s
4 Green Way, Mid-1970s The street was closed to cars and renamed Green Way in this era. Courtesy of College of Charleston Libraries, Special Collections.
 “The Shack Club”
“The Shack Club” The house became a College dormitory in 1901, dubbed “The Shack” by students. This photo is from 1917. By 1921, behavior had become so unruly that the College temporarily closed the residence hall and barred that year’s inhabitants from returning to it. The 1921 yearbook includes an “Ex-Shack Club” whose motto was “We will do anything but what is right; if we ever did a good deed, we are sorry.” 1917 College of Charleston Magazine. Courtesy of College of Charleston Libraries, Special Collections.
Mr. Herbert DeCosta
Mr. Herbert DeCosta DeCosta, a well-known African American contractor and architect, renovated 4 Green Street for the College in the early 1974. He and his firm renovated many other historic buildings on campus. Courtesy of the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture.
DeCosta renovation of 4 Green Street
DeCosta renovation of 4 Green Street President Ted Stern praised DeCosta for using shutters that made the enclosed front porch appear historically correct. Charleston News and Courier, May 15, 1974.
Green St. in 1888
Green St. in 1888 On this 1888 Sanborn Fire Insurance map, 4 Green St. still had outbuildings. Courtesy of Library of Congress.
Bricks beneath stucco of 4 Green Way
Bricks beneath stucco of 4 Green Way This photo shows the decorative mortar joints of the brickwork beneath the stucco that usually covers the front of 4 Green Way. The decorative mortar joints, popular in 19th-century Charleston, required a high level of skill. In 2020, when the College's Facilities Management staff was repairing this part of the house, the stucco came off very quickly. This was because the historic stucco contained more lime than is found in the Portland cement that is used today. Although Facilities Management hoped to leave the bricks exposed as seen in this photo, the Board of Architectural Review later informed them that new stucco must be applied to the building. Courtesy of the College of Charleston.
Faculty Office, 4 Green Way
Faculty Office, 4 Green Way Mathematics Professor Paul Young works in his first-floor office in 4 Green Way. Courtesy of the College of Charleston.

Location

4 Green Way, Charleston, SC 29424

Metadata

Julia Eichelberger and Sarah Fick, “4 Green Way,” Discovering Our Past: College of Charleston Histories, accessed July 25, 2024, https://discovering.cofc.edu/items/show/5.