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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, or stories of the people living right here in our city today, or simply looking for things to do, places to eat, 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, 19 March 2018 13:24

57 Laurens Street - Taft House

Still wandering around Ansonborough, this week we explore 57 Laurens Street, built around 1836 in the Greek Revival style. Two years after this house was built, the fire of 1838 wiped out most of the Ansonborough houses; fortunately, 57 Laurens and several of the homes around it escaped the blaze.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018 13:49

55 Laurens Street - James Jervey House

Another structure to escape the fire of 1838 in Ansonborough is 55 Laurens Street. Fortunately, Laurens Street is on the north side of Ansonborough, and most of this area was not affected by that fire.

Built in 1818 by James Jervey, this imposing brick mansion retains much of its Federal style ornamentation inside; the exterior brick is laid in Flemish bond (alternating header and stretcher on each row). 55 Laurens is a large double house with a raised basement; the original kitchen building and another dependency building are located on the rear portion of the lot. From the outside, you would never guess that the building is now made up of condominiums and has been sin e the 1980s. In any event, walking among the primarily single houses on this street, 55 Laurens certainly stands out and makes a statement. The house is also reflective of the owner's prominence in the community.

Monday, 05 March 2018 14:36

82 Anson Street

The house at 82 Anson Street in Ansonborough is one of the few buildings that escaped the 1838 fire that destroyed many of the structures in this area. This house was built about 1799, and the interior retains its original Federal style features.

A wealthy merchant with his home on Meeting Street, Josiah Smith built this hosue for his daughter Mary Smith. Mary never married; she died in 1832 and left the property to her nieces and nephews. The house remained in the family until a few years after the Civil War.

Monday, 26 February 2018 18:52

Ansonborough: A Great Experiment

We'll explore Ansonborough, the first suburb of Charles Town, for the next few weeks. For an easy reference of what this area covers today, picture yourself on East Bay Street, the east boundary, in front of the Harris Teeter grocery store and consider several streets north to Calhoun Street, several streets south to Hasell Street with the west boundary as Anson Street. Now you've got a snapshot of the area of Ansonborough, somewhat expanded from its original acreage.

Completing our exploration of Rainbow Row (79 East Bay at the corner of East Bay and Tradd Streets to 107 East Bay), we'll stop at 83 and 87 East Bay Street, both of which buildings have a connection to Susan Pringle Frost, founder of the Preservation Society of Charleston in 1920. Frost, who could trace her Charleston roots back to the early years of the settlement, was a court stenographer for many years. She was also a suffragette with a passion for saving Charleston's historic architecture. Being the first woman realtor in Charleston, Frost was in a unique position to realize that passion.

Continuing our exploration of Rainbow Row (79 East Bay at the corner of East Bay and Tradd Streets to 107 East Bay), today we'll stop at 95 East Bay Street. 95 East Bay was built around 1741 by Colonel Othniel Beale, whose residence I wrote about last week.

It's easy to point out Rainbow Row by the curved or Dutch-gabled roof of 95 East Bay, which stands out like a beacon among the rooftops of this row. The house has been renovated, yet retains fine Georgian interior elements. Like the others on this row, the landscaped garden behind the house is long and narrow.

Monday, 05 February 2018 16:31

Rainbow Row Part I - Othniel Beale House

Mention "Rainbow Row" and most people know you're talking about Charleston. This colorful row of early structures extends from 79 East Bay Street at the corner of East Bay and Tradd to 107 East Bay. On my bus and walking tours, Rainbow Row is the one part of the city that everyone wants to see. The next few posts will concentrate on several of the Rainbow Row houses.

Monday, 29 January 2018 21:51

9 East Battery - William Roper House

9 East Battery was built around 1838 by William Roper, a wealthy cotton planter. If you're standing on High Battery, imagine that the 2 houses to the left of 9 East Battery don't exist, and you will have a sense of the landscape in front of this Greek Revival mansion. With no houses in front of it on East Battery until 1848, the Roper House with its massive columns was conspicuous to each ship entering Charleston harbor, a monument to Roper's wealth and stature.

Monday, 22 January 2018 18:28

1 East Battery - Louis DeSaussure House

1 East Battery was built around 1858 by Louis DeSaussure, a wealthy businessman of French Huguenot ancestry. Three stories high and built of brick covered with stucco, this house had an eye view of the Civil War. Approximately two years after the house was completed, South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union, and for the next several years, the occupants of 1 East Battery lived with the constant bombardment from the Union ships that made up the blockade behind Fort Sumter.

Monday, 15 January 2018 19:26

64 South Battery - Gibbes House

64 South Battery was built in 1772 by a wealthy shipping magnate, William Gibbes. A wonderful example of a Charleston double house (two rooms wide and two rooms deep) in the Georgian architectural style, 64 South Battery had a pristine view of the Ashley River. Today that view is gone, and it is difficult to imagine the original view with the landfill and houses that now stand in front of 64 South Battery.

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