If you have ever strolled through the charming streets of downtown Charleston, it is likely that you’ve caught a glimpse of the soft blue paint that graces the ceilings of the Holy City’s most iconic porches. From some of the most historic houses in the Lowcountry to modern single family homes, ceilings splashed with shades of “haint blue” have become increasingly prevalent throughout the years. While some believe the purpose behind the colorful accent is simply to create a charming appearance and a relaxing ambiance, others believe the baby blue ceilings represent an anecdote of historical (and spooky) significance.
Now mimicked by paint companies, the first ever haint blue color is said to have originated from Gullah Culture in the Carolinas hundreds of years ago. The Gullah people created the faded blue color using a mixture of milk, indigo dye, lime, and other pigments on hand. Although there is no real evidence to support it, many Southerners claim that haint blue also has the ability to banish bugs, a reputation likely stemming from the original integration of lime, a natural insect repellent.
Legend has it that painting porch ceilings, door frames, and window frames with a coat of the light blue color will protect homeowners by chasing away haints, or evil, restless spirits who have yet to move on from the physical world. While this might sound far-fetched, don’t be too quick to rule it out as a myth. In a historically haunted city such as Charleston, many local homeowners still believe there to be some truth in this longstanding tradition.
Superstitions aside, many people opt for the calming blue color on porch ceilings as a way to imitate the sky, extend daylight hours, and create a tranquil setting for an area often intended for rest and relaxation. Whatever the true purpose behind it may be, it is Southern traditions such as this that make Charleston so extraordinary!
Concierge Tip: Stop into the Calhoun Mansion on 16 Meeting Street between 11am and 5pm for a tour of the largest private residence in Charleston. Learn more about the home and its haint blue porch ceilings or follow this walking route to see more examples.