Black Harleston Village

Well into the twentieth century, Harleston Village was a neighborhood where both Black and white residents lived. Bounded by Calhoun Street to the north, King Street to the east, Broad Street to the south, and the Ashley River to the west, this neighborhood was a vibrant civic, cultural, and business center for Black Charlestonians. The Black Harleston Village Tour highlights prominent members of the Black Harleston Village community as well as its businesses, civic organizations, churches, and schools, primarily during the twentieth century.

The H. A. DeCosta Company was a thriving, Black-owned architecture and construction business three generations in the making. Benjamin DeCosta first started the business in 1899, and, in 1919, Herbert DeCosta Sr., Benjamin’s son, started the H. A. DeCosta Company. Herbert A. DeCosta Jr., was born in Charleston in 1923 and, from age twelve, worked alongside his father, Herbert DeCosta Sr.
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The Brown Fellowship Society, founded November 1st, 1790 by Charleston’s community of elite free persons of color, is more than two centuries old. This Society was once central to the African American community of Charleston, and members maintained a cemetery next to their meeting hall on Pitt…
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n 1925 a young entrepreneurial couple, Edward Leon Guenveur Sr. and Lauretta Goodall-Guenveur, purchased a home on Coming Street in the midst of a thriving African American community, adjacent to the College of Charleston. The living descendants recall how the five siblings had to walk around the perimeter of the College to get to the grocer, instead of simply cutting directly through the…
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At 105 Wentworth Street stands College of Charleston’s Kappa Sigma Fraternity house. Beyond the surface of a residential home for the College’s frat life, this property holds a special part of Charleston’s Black history. On May 3rd, 1898, Septima Poinsette (she later became Clark when she married Nerie Clark in 1920) was born on this site.
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