Monthly Archives: September 2015

The History of Downtown Charleston, SC!

I’ve made a liar of myself. I never did make that 9/12 post I promised. For that, I apologize. In case it might happen again:

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So, I wanted to finish up my South Carolina trip recap in this post. Let the fun begin!

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This was my dinner at Jestine’s Kitchen in Downtown Charleseton. It includes some awesome Soul Food: Brown Sugar Glazed Ham, Mac & Cheese, Collard Greens, and cornbread with some real Southern sweet tea.
Trying to get to Jestine’s it started to downpour! Since Ant and I didn’t have an umbrella, we got soaked, of course. It was a cold rain, too.

 

 

 

 

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To the left we have me, soaked, and to the right we have me with my hair dried off and with an awesome flip to it now! Yay!  IMG_7881

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also took a really cool historical tour through a portion of Downtown Charleston in an open-carriage pulled by two mules.

St. Philip's Episcopal Church

St. Philip’s Episcopal Church

It leans slightly to the left because of the earthquake that happened in the 1800s. Also, John C. Calhoun is buried here. In case you’re wondering, he’s the man who created the “Don’t Tread On Me” flag. Also, Edward Rutledge is buried here, too. He was the youngest signer of the Declaration of Independence and eventually became the 39th Governor of South Carolina.

Powder Magazine

Powder Magazine

The Powder Magazine sat on the edge of the original Charleston city border, which was surrounded by a 17-ft. wall made of mud and palmetto logs. They built a wall around their city because 13 prior attempts to colonize the South (one of which was Roanoke) had failed. The Powder Magazine dates back to 1713 and has walls that are 2-3 feet thick, made of brick, and the roof was stored with sandbags in the case that if there was an explosion, the sound and impact would hopefully be muted. This same wall was very successful during the Revolutionary War. Charleston was able to hold out against the British for four years (compared to Boston and Philadelphia, which fell in under a year), because the wall was built from palmetto logs, which are very absorbent of water and so are very spongey. This sponge-iness allowed for difficulty to surmount and destory and/or invade the city. Since the British couldn’t break the fort walls, they retreated back North. This victory for the city of Charleston is why South Carolina features the Palemetto as its State Tree and on its State Flag.

Charleston had five major fires in its history, and the fire of 1861 wiped out a good portion of the city.

I also learned that in 1704, the Spanish sent several hundred men from St. Augustine, FL to Charleston o wipe out the southermost English colony, which at time was Charleston, SC. The Spanairds attempt failed but the English sent back a retaliation force and burnt St. Augustine to the ground. This allowed English domination in the South.

Then there is King’s Street. It’s the main shopping street of Downtown Charleston. Our tour guide informed us that King’s Street is the highest point in Charleston, at 11-ft. above sea level. Also, it’s named King’s Street because it was owned by the King of England. In fact, it is still owned by Queen Elizabeth II today, so if you live on or do business on King’s Street, you have to pay taxes to the Crown.

Other Fun Facts: Charleston is known as the Holy City because it has so many different churches and was one of the most religously diverse cities of its time in history (in the American Colonies, anyway). In fact, the oldest Synagogue in the country is here and was established back in 1750.

St. John's Lutheran Church

St. John’s Lutheran Church

St. John’s Lutheran Church was established in 1734 and is well-known for it’s great iron-work gates with date back to 1822. They are so signifigant because these gates are one of the few original iron-works in all of Charleston. That’s because during the Civil War, a lot of iron was taken from around the city to melt down into weapons for the war.

The Unitarian Church in Charleston.

The Unitarian Church in Charleston.

The Unitarian Church was made in 1722. (For the record, I took this photo off of Google because my photo wasn’t nearly as good as this). I’ve never heard of Unitarians before this carriage tour. Unitarians believe that everyone goes to Heaven and that there is no Hell. Thomas Jefferson didn’t share their beliefs, so during the Revolutionary War, the Unitarian Church was used as a stable for the soldiers horses.

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These brick homes were built by the US Navy during WWII for soldier housing barracks. After the war, the Navy donated the buildings to the city to be used for whatever they wanted. The city ended up making them public housing.

Extra Fun Fact: All of the bricks used to make these homes, plus all of the old historic buildings in Downtown Charleston were handmade by the slaves on Boone Hall Plantation, which I featured in a previous post.

Old Marine Hospital

Old Marine Hospital

The Old Marine Hospital was designed by Robert Mills. After WWII it became the Jenkins Orphanage. One of the orphans who ended up living here created a dance that caught on and became well-known, even to today. It’s known as the Charleston, and was named after the city it came from.

The Old City Jail

The Old City Jail

Front of the Old City Jail

Front of the Old City Jail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The city of Charleston chose the location of Potter’s Field for the Old City Jail because for the first 150 years of Charleston’s existence, it was the farthest end of the city’s limits. Potter’s Field was settled between Franklin and Archduke Streets and was where the poor and the people of no faith were buried.

Fun Fact: The College of Charleston tried to build a new library not too long ago, about a block away from the prison, and they dug up over 500 bodies. So, the area known as Potter’s Field still had bodies below the homes and streets and old city prison built on top of it.

This being said, I’ve definitely decided that if I EVER moved to Charleston, I would NEVER EVER live in the area known as Potter’s Field.

 

Moving on….

The Memminger Auditorium was once the Charleston high school, but before that it was a middle school. While it was a middle school, cannonballs were dug up on the school grounds, during a renovation project, that dated back to the Civial War! When the cannonballs were found, the bomb squad was called in because during the Civil War, some cannonballs were explosive rounds and they were worried they might still be live.

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The Daughters of Confederacy

The Daughters of Confederacy building hosts many Cival War artifacts, including some of Robert E. Lee’s hair.

Philadelphia Alley

Philadelphia Alley

This is Philadelphia Alley and it is where all of the Gentleman’s Duels took place. John Luke Wilson, a laywer of Charleston, wrote a book of 28 rules for the duels.

Fun Fact: The most common profession for a majority of the duelists were newspaper editors.

Extra Fun Fact: Charleston was once held captive by Blackbeard in the 1800s. His demands were that the townspeople of Charleston give him a chest of medicine in return for him to leave town. They complied. Our tour guide joked that their city is the only one in America who can lay claim to Blackbeard holding their city hostage for healthcare, haha!

Wrapping up, this trip was lots of fun packed into a quick 3-day weekend. If you’re ever heading to Charleston, South Carolina, I highly recommend doing any of the Historic Tours or exhibits. Have fun and look for my words again soon!

Cheers!

-Soleil

The Daily Update: Let’s Get To The Point Here

I’ve been slacking with my posts here lately…. For the record, I promise to make a real post later today (…Saturday 9/12/15).

Also for the record, I started watching Sword Art Online on Netflix today:

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Also, also for the record: SOA is giving me all the feels! I literally just cried my eyes out for the last episode of Season 1. -sob sob!-

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Good night and look for my words again real soon!

-Soleil

A South Carolina Historical Site: Boone Hall Plantation

South Carolina is a nice state, and Charleston is an interesting area, but I’m not sure I’d want to live here. It’s nice as a vacation spot, I think. However, there are a lot of historic sites to visit and experience.

Today, for instance, I visited Boone Hall Plantation, where scenes for “The Notebook“, “The Patriot“, and the miniseries’ “North and South” and “Queen” were filmed. Below, is a photograph I took of the Main House on the plantation grounds. This is where the rich family that owned the plantation would live.

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This next photo is of the cotton gin, which made the lives on the slaves on the plantation much easier, because it separated the cotton from the flower, for easier manufacturing and increased productivity and allowed for faster and more frequent deliveries.

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When the plantation was still using slave labor, a majority of its 4000-5000 acres of land was filled with row upon row of cotton to be harvested. Nowadays, the plantation only keeps 8 rows of cotton for harvest, relying on larger crops for money-making, such as corn, watermelon, squash, peaches, pecans, blueberries, strawberries, grapes, and so much more. While I did snap of a picture of these 8 cotton plant rows, they’re not in bloom, yet, and not ready to pick, yet. I mean, if you look hard enough, you can see the white flowers from which the cotton will grow.

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Of the (about) 21 original brick (for the record, at one point, the plantation also had a working brickyard, where the slaves made bricks. ALL of the bricks on the plantation and a lot in Charleston’s downtown, were made at Boone Hall) slave homes, there are only 9 remaining. In each slave house, there is a different exhibit where you can “Learn the way slaves grew food and used herbal remedies in their everyday lives. Discuss the task vs. gang systems used by overseers of the plantations. Learn what Gullah meant and the language and culture behind it at the Gullah Theatre [and] Do hands on activities that will show a slaves life and the role of slavery in the success of a plantation.” —Boone Plantation Website

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Below is the Gullah Theater house. A wonderful Gullah woman, Jackie, performed for us today. I learned about the Gullah Geechie dialect, how Geechie was once a derogitive term for black slaves who came from Angola, Africa. The word Gullah derives from Angola — they were originally called Angola (for the country they came from), then it was shortened to Gola, and eventually became Gullah. I even learned that you can buy bibles written in the Gullah dialect where the dialect is still thriving, such as in and around the Charleston area.

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I also took the House Tour, where you tour “The mansion that exists on Boone Hall Plantation today, [which] was built in 1936 by Canadian ambassador Thomas Stone as part of the Second Wave of Reconstruction. Guided tours of the first floor allow guests to see how this Georgian-designed home blends recovered materials and antique furnishings to recreate an atmosphere that would have surrounded a Coastal Carolina planter’s family and his guests. This 30 minute tour begins on the front porch and is given by a well informed guide in historical dress. The tour will also introduce you to the history of Boone Hall Plantation and its evolution through several owners since 1681.” —Boone Plantation Website

After the House Tour, I went on the Plantation Coach Tour. It’s given in a really cool open-air motor coach, which starts in front of the Butterfly Café and goes around the entire 738 acres (for the record, I am aware that I wrote 4000-5000 acres earlier, but the plantation owners had to sell off land and there were a few divorces where they had to give land to their spouses as part of the separation. Now, the current owners (the sister and brother whose parents bought the plantation in 1955) own only 738 acres) and covers both ends of the plantation, both geographically and historically. Visitors are shown how the still-working plantation continues to grow crops (for over 3 centuries).

If you’re ever in the Charleston, South Carolina area, I highly recommend that you check this plantation out. It’s one of the three most famous plantations in South Carolina and it’s only $20 for admission and eerything on the grounds is free to participate in. That’s a pretty good deal, if you ask me.

Look for my words again soon!

-Soleil