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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!”

143-145 Church Street with its hipped roof, dormers and red shutters is a familiar site to Charlestonians. The structure was originally built with brick and Bermuda stone as a double tenement around 1740 by Alexander Peronneau, a wealthy French Huguenot. The double tenement was renovated and converted into a single-family residence in 1928, at which time the buildings in the back were constructed with brick recycled from Shepheard's Tavern, which had been torn down in 1924.

St. Michael's Church is normally open for visitors during the day Monday through Saturday. If the main doors or the door on the right side are open, you have an invitation to go inside to visit and/or pray.

Behind the altar is an 1893 Tiffany window of St. Michael slaying the dragon. When you go there, notice the magnificent wrought iron altar rail, imported from London in 1772. Years ago when I was a member of St. Michael's, the altar rail was black; I remember when the church, after study and analysis, decided to paint it an historical color. We have no documentation that the altar rail was painted the Prussian blue with gold highlights it bears today, but the blue is a period color, and the altar would have been painted in 1772.

This week we'll visit St. Michael's Anglican Church, 80 Meeting Street, at the fourth Corner of Law. St. Michael's represents God's Law. There has always been a church at this site since Charles Town settled the peninsula in 1680.

If you read the buildings at the Four Corners of Law, you will see that the top of City Hall is not as tall as the top of the Old State House. The United States Post Office has a tower that is much taller than either city Hall or the Old State House. However, the tower is not as tall as St. Michael's steeple, because "nothing is higher than God's Law."

This week we'll visit the interior of the United States Post Office, a free offering for those inclined to explore the 1893 building and, most particularly, the Postal Museum.

The Postal Museum inside the Post Office is open from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday (closed Saturday, Sunday, and holidays). Inside the building, turn right into the Post Office (where you can mail a letter or buy a stamp) and you'll see the entrance to the Postal Museum. The museum is small but packed with fascinating artifacts and information -- in the exhibits, on the walls, under glass, everywhere!

We have finally arrived at 83 Broad Street, the third corner of the Four Corners of Law. Here we have the United States Post Office and Federal Judiciary System representing the federal corner of law. Completed in 1897, this building was designed by John Henry Devereux, an Irish immigrant born in 1840 who began his career as a plasterer, but later became a noted architect. The Great Earthquake of 1886 demolished the prior structure at this site, making way for the present building.

To view the interior of the Old Statehouse at 84 Broad Street, enter from Courthouse Square around the back of the building and go through security. Although the Probate Court is on the third floor, the entire building is solemn and quiet. Enjoy the respite from the heat; there is air conditioning and also a public restroom.

If you like early governmental history, 84 Broad Street is a treasure chest. When you enter, on the opposite side of the staircase is a small touch screen where you can access a narrated film about the building and some of its contents. If you've got the time, I would suggest you briefly explore the building first, then watch the film, and afterwards, explore again.

84 Broad Street is the oldest structure at the Four Corners of Law. Built in 1753 when Charles Town was still a royal colony, 84 Broad Street was constructed as the seat of the Colonial government in South Carolina. Charles Town was one of the most important ports of the American colonies, and 84 Broad symbolized the wealth and growing significance of this city.

The interior of City Hall at 80 Broad Street is free of charge. If you're in Charleston for a few days, please take the time to visit. The atmosphere never fails to strike me as quiet and professional, yet elegant. The interior was completely renovated in 1882 with the City Council Chamber on the top floor being enlarged and enhanced in the Victorian style.

I've been inside the Chamber when no one else was there and also when the Chamber was overflowing with residents and interested...

Over the next several weeks, we will concentrate on exploring the "Four Corners of Law" at the corners of Broad and Meeting Streets. Some things happen by accident but are meant to be - the Four Corners is one such example. The most important public square in Charleston evolved over two centuries, and no one recognized it as the Four Corners of Law until Robert Ripley of Ripley's Believe It or Not! visited Charleston in the first part of the twentieth century and immediately named the public square as such regarding City Hall (City Law), the State House (State Law), the Federal Post Office and Judiciary System (Federal Law) and St. Michael's Episcopal Church (God's Law).

Monday, 16 April 2018 10:23

321 East Bay Street: Blake-Grimke House

Today we visit the Blake-Grimke House at 321 East Bay.  Currently a law office, this house retains the spirit of illustrious inhabitants.Today we visit the Blake-Grimke House at 321 East Bay.  Currently a law office, this house retains the spirit of illustrious inhabitants.

Before 1789, William Blake, a planter who owned land in both South Carolina and England, built this impressive house on the edge of Ansonborough...

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