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The Charleston Insider

We love Charleston and keep a pulse on what's going on in our community. Whether you are looking for interesting facts about Charleston's history, stories of the people living right here in our city today, or simply looking for things to do, places to eat, and where to stay, we've got you covered!
Amelia Whaley

Amelia Whaley

Amelia ("Mimi") Whaley

Mimi was born in Charleston and grew up on nearby Edisto Island, one of several sea islands settled by planters due to their close proximity to Charleston. In addition to the Whaleys, Seabrooks, Mikells and Baynards, Mimi is also a direct descendant of Paul Grimball, the recipient of an English land grant of over 1,000 acres on Edisto in 1683; he and his family were the first documented white settlers on Edisto. In Charleston and the Lowcountry, it’s common to hear, "Everyone around here is related; it's just whether or not you claim each other…"

Mimi enjoys sharing the history of Charleston and the Lowcountry. A licensed tour guide, she leads historic Charleston walking tours Wednesdays through Sundays at 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., leaving from Washington Park in the heart of the old city. Reservations are required for these Charleston walking tours which last approximately 2 hours and end in the vicinity of the Charleston Market. Private tours are also available.

Mimi is also an award-winning Charleston artist working in watercolor, oil, acrylic and mixed media. “I’m so fortunate to live in this area and share this special city through touring, writing, talking and painting – all the things I love to do!”

Monday, 13 May 2019 13:30

456 King Street - William Aiken House

We return to town this week and visit 456 King Street, known as the William Aiken House. Its namesake, William Aiken, was an Irish immigrant born in 1788 who came to America at the age of 10. Aiken became prosperous in the cotton and rice business of South Carolina. His name lives on in the South Carolina town and county of Aiken. He was also the father of Governor William Aiken who lived several blocks away on Elizabeth Street in the museum house known as “The Aiken-Rhett House."

Monday, 06 May 2019 15:37

Drayton Hall

This week we go further afield and drive out to scenic Highway 61. There are three major plantations located on this highway along the Ashley River that are open to the public: Magnolia Plantation, Middleton Place, and Drayton Hall.

Of these plantations, Drayton Hall has the only plantation house that was not destroyed by Union forces as they burned their way into Charleston at the end of the Civil War. Supposedly, rumors that the house was being used as a hospital for highly contagious people was enough to totally discourage the Union forces from getting close enough to discover whether the patients were Confederate or Union troops.

Monday, 29 April 2019 11:25

98 Broad Street

Welcome to 98 Broad Street, a small building next door to the Charleston County Judicial Center. Notice the French flag in the photo; 98 Broad has been home to Gaulart & Maliclet Café, a small French restaurant, since 1984. G&M, known to locals as "Fast & French," is a favorite restaurant for many Charlestonians, especially during lunchtime to those employed near Broad Street.

Tuesday, 23 April 2019 09:37

101Bull Street

On Bull Street traveling towards the Ashley River, several townhouses tend to capture people's attention. Sarah Smith built these Italianate-style row houses, starting with the one she lived in at 101 Bull Street, around 1853-1854. "Row houses" refer to a row of houses where each house shares a common wall with the next.

For purposes of this post, we will focus on 101 Bull Street. The façade can be misleading; 101 Bull has over 6,000 square feet. Look at the ornamentation above the door. If you're from Charleston or visit frequently, this heavy terra cotta ornamentation will look familiar because of its resemblance to the window cornices at the Mills House Hotel at 115 Meeting Street.

The French Huguenot Church is on the southeast corner of Church and Queen Streets. Across the street is the Dock Street Theatre, and straight ahead is St. Philip's Episcopal Church as Church Street curves around it. A French Huguenot Church has stood on this site, in the midst of these historic buildings, since 1687.

Huguenots were French Protestants who followed the teachings of John Calvin. Under the 1598 Edict of Nantes, Huguenots were allowed to practice their religion in France, which was primarily Catholic at the time. In 1685, King Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes, and Huguenots began leaving France to escape persecution.

Built as a double tenement by Josiah Smith, the grand old brick building with the arched passageway at 85-87 Broad Street dates from 1795. Smith gave one tenement to each of his two sons, William and Samuel. The Smiths descended from an old and distinguished family who had helped settle Carolina.

 

Monday, 01 April 2019 10:42

St. Philip’s Church

St. Philip’s Church at 146 Church Street is the mother church of Anglicanism in Charleston. This English colony, founded in 1670, served as a beacon of religious tolerance, which was written into the governing document of Carolina. Anglicanism would have been the “state” religion since we were an English colony but other religions were welcomed here.

Monday, 25 March 2019 09:45

95 Broad Street - Peter Bocquet House

What most people notice first about 95 Broad Street is its fabulous color -- that of a red-orange poppy. The paint seems to breathe instead of looking flat and uniform because the house has been "limewashed," an old European method of painting where lime is mixed with earth pigments for color. The paint works particularly well over absorbent surfaces such as stucco and brick. The effect particularly appeals to me as an artist.

 

Monday, 18 March 2019 09:30

125 Bull Street - The Avery Institute

Returning to Bull Street, we stop at 125 Bull, an Italianate-style building built after the Civil War. Still an imposing building and topped by a cupola, 125 Bull Street was completed by 1868 as Avery Normal Institute, an institution integral to the much later Civil Rights movement in South Carolina and beyond.

At the end of the Civil War, the Union kept soldiers in Charleston until 1880, primarily to ensure that the free blacks received fair treatment; 1865 to 1880 is known as the “Reconstruction Era”. Unfortunately, when the Union soldiers left, many whites reverted to old mindsets and prejudices and, in many ways attempted to “enslave” the free blacks again, only this time by using segregation and closed doors of opportunity. 

 

Monday, 11 March 2019 09:48

2 Amherst Street

This week, we travel to the other side of the Charleston peninsula as we visit 2 Amherst Street, located on the corner of East Bay and Amherst Streets, completed around 1808 and associated through the years with three old Charleston families. The house is a little different from other Charleston houses; 2 Amherst has a double piazza that crosses the front and then wraps part of the two sides of the house. Even from the exterior, this house exudes a charm of its own.

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