We arrived in Charleston, South Carolina this past Monday without a plan as to what we were going to be seeing. Sure, we knew that this was the location of Fort Sumter, the place that received the first shot of the Civil War. Beyond that, we knew little of Charleston’s story. By pure luck, we opted to stay at the same KOA that our friend Kathy was working at.
You may recall that we had met her while working at Amazon, and we also caught up with her in the Black Hills last September. On this occasion, she was heading out the following day to her next KOA gig in New York…one we are staying at later in our trip. We went out to a local pizzeria and she filled us in on a few things to see in town.
On Wednesday, our friends from Melbourne Beach Mobile Park, Brenda and Jim, met us in Charleston’s historic district.
Brenda’s blog, No More Sticks and Bricks, details their journey as fulltime RVers. Definitely check it out. The four of us had lunch at the Brown Dog Deli, then we set out to do some exploring!
All throughout the town, we saw these plates with nuts in the center of them. They are called earthquake bolts, and they were put there following the 7.0 quake in 1886 that rocked the city. They are rods that run completely through the buildings that help straighten the bulging walls.
This is St. Michael’s Episcopal Church. It is the oldest religious structure in Charleston, dating back to the 1750’s. It’s graveyard holds two of the signers of the U.S. Constitution: John Rutledge and Charles Pinckney.
Both George Washington and Robert E. Lee attended services here, each sitting in Pew #43, some 70 years apart.
On State Street, we found the Union Insurance building. Back in the day, each insurance company in town also had their own fire truck. See that seal at the top of the building? Each insured home displayed the seal from the company they were insured by. While all companies would respond to a fire, only the one that insured the home was responsible to fight the blaze.
Jim, Brenda and Diana are admiring the Heyward-Washington house. Thomas Heyward, signer of the Declaration of Independence, owned this home. George Washington stayed here on his visit to the city in 1791.
Twice we passed by St. Phillip’s Episcopal Church, but were unable to view the interior. The first time, a funeral was in progress and the second time it was closed. This building was built in the 1830’s, after fire destroyed its predecessor. In 1861, the bells in the steeple were donated to the Confederate Army to be made into munitions. They were not replaced until 1976.
On Bay Street is this collection of houses known as Rainbow Row. Alternating pastel colors adorn each home. This concludes our tour of the upper part of town with Jim and Brenda. What a fun day!
On Friday, Diana and I decided to check out the lower portion of the historic district.
This beautiful building is the Circular Congregational Church. Part of the United Church of Christ, this progressive congregation has been meeting at this site since 1681. The current building was built after the earthquake.
We also saw several of these ‘single’ houses, meaning they were only one room wide. This allowed the sea breezes to flow through the homes. Note the front door. It actually opens to the porch, thereby allowing privacy for the homeowners when they were sitting outside.
Overlooking the harbor is the High Battery. Named for the artillery that was mounted there during the Civil War, this raised walkway allowed for the construction of lower Bay Street.
One of the many homes across from the High Battery is the Edmondston-Alston house. It is from the second floor porch that Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard observed the shelling of Fort Sumter, which can be easily seen from that vantage point.
Further down the street is this monument to the men of the Confederacy. The figures are looking directly across the harbor at Fort Sumter.
White Point Garden sits at the extreme south end of town. The beautiful park has a checkered past, as Stede Bonnet and 50 of his fellow pirates were hung here in 1791. They were left hanging for days as a successful deterrent to piracy along these shores. It was also the site of heavy artillery during the Civil War.
That wraps up our tour of the historic district in Charleston. Next up is a tour of Forts Sumter and Fort Moultrie, both including some surprises found there that we weren’t aware of. Be sure to stay tuned for that adventure in our next post!