Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Carolinas: Travel Journal #5 Charleston History

 Submitted by Linda
One of my favorite days on our girl's trip was our last full day in the charming city of Charleston. We got going in the morning (to avoid the heat and humidity) and headed out to the Palmetto Carriage barn, to take in some city history via a horse drawn carriage.
Though this is a 'g-rated' blog, I got a laugh out of this sign, so much so, that I had to share it.
 Our carriage looked a bit like this. Some were horse drawn, others used mules.
Before we started, our tour guide, Shawn, had to stop at a funny little booth where a bingo-type machine chose our route. Apparently there are firm rules (to protect the residents from having an overrun of carriages in their neighborhoods) about the route that the carriages take. This lotto-type system ensures that the carriages are spread about the town. Straight ahead of the carriage is St. Phillip's Epsicopal church. Its spire tilts a little to the left, as a result of the big earthquake of 1866.
We heard lots of interesting stories, and nuggets of history, and we felt like California was so young, compared to South Carolina. We loved the southern homes with their pillars and wrought iron.
This pink house is supposedly the narrowest house in Charleston, created as a result of a bet. It is 13 feet wide.
The Calhoun house, pictured below, has three huge covered porches on the side. Craig always talks about having a house with a porch, so I texted him this picture.
 
We saw other interesting things from long ago. Here and there we saw raised concrete blocks, used to help people step up into their carriages. 
 
This next picture shows one of the last six remaining cobblestone streets, which dates from the mid 1700s. The stones were dumped from the hulls of sailing ships to make room for cargo. The stones were then put to use in stabilizing the sandy, rutted streets facing the harbor. 
 
One of the oddest buildings we saw was the Old Powder Magazine. It is the oldest public building and dates back to the early 1700s, and was used as a powder magazine until after the Revolution. The walls are quite thick, compared to the roof, so that if ever it were to explode, it would explode upwards, rather than outwards. It has never blown up, and now is a museum.
I remember Charleston in relationship to the Civil War, but it was a key city in the Revolutionary War as well.

In 1680, a growth and development plan was designed for the new city. This plan specifically designated four corners for a “church, town house and other public structures.”
As a result of that design, the Four Corners of Law is located where Meeting and Broad Streets meet. On one corner is Charleston City Hall (local law); another corner the Charleston County Courthouse (state law); another corner the United States Courthouse and Post Office (federal law);  and St. Michaels Church (God’s law) is located on the final corner. According to Ripley's Believe it or not, this is the only U.S. location where this occurs. The picture of the Four Corners of Law came from The Carpetbagger blog, which you can see HERE.
Incidentally, George Washington worshiped at St. Michaels Church in 1791, and General Robert E. Lee, 70 years later. 

The large, long double-pew in the center of the church, No. 43, originally known as “The Governor’s Pew,” is the one in which President George Washington worshipped on Sunday afternoon, May 8, 1791. General Robert E. Lee also worshipped in the pew some seventy years later. - See more at: http://www.stmichaelschurch.net/about-us/history/#sthash.RFChKmWq.dpuf
The large, long double-pew in the center of the church, No. 43, originally known as “The Governor’s Pew,” is the one in which President George Washington worshipped on Sunday afternoon, May 8, 1791. General Robert E. Lee also worshipped in the pew some seventy years later. - See more at: http://www.stmichaelschurch.net/about-us/history/#sthash.RFChKmWq.dpuf
If I remember correctly, the building below held an important meeting regarding democratic presidential candidates prior to the 1860 convention. Two democrats were nominated (one being Steven Douglas), which split the democratic vote, and resulted in Abe Lincoln winning that election. And the rest, they say, is history.
Charleston suffered great economic devastation due to the Civil War and an earthquake in 1886 and was too poor to tear down and rebuild itself. Folks couldn't afford new furnishings or new homes, despite the damage and decay. As the Charlestonians say, again and again and again, they were "too proud to whitewash and too poor to paint."
 
Following the earthquake, many buildings were shored up with earthquake bolts. Though our tour guide said this isn't a successful modern day strategy in earthquake prevention or repair, we still saw buildings with bolts installed. The black circles below are where the bolts are.
One of our splurges was to stay at the Francis Marion Hotel in downtown Charleston.
 My picture doesn't do justice to the crystal chandeliers!
Nicknamed "The Swamp Fox", Marion served as a Brigadier General in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. He earned his nickname by striking the British army with incredible swiftness, then vanishing ghost-like into the swamps.  In the movie "The Patriot", Mel Gibson's character was loosely based on the life of Francis Marion.

After our carriage ride and history lesson, we stopped by the Dixie Supply Bakery and Cafe, another of Guy Fieri's recommendations. Notice the line that goes out the door!
I intended to order the crab cakes, but they were sold out. When I didn't know what to choose next, the girl taking our order suggested the shrimp BLT. I said 'Yes!' The shrimp were fried, along with a fried green tomato, and it was as good as it looks.
Though our adventure has ended, we are still talking about all that we did, saw and ate.

1 comment:

Liz Leahy said...

So many fun memories! You have done a wonderful job of showing the trip highlights :>