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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, 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.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018 15:31

138 Wentworth Street - Kerrison Mansion

Set back from the stret on a huge lot, 138 Wentworth Street quietly stands in grandeur, bright white against the green lawn. Designed by architect Russell Warren of Rhode Island and completed in 1838, this Greek Revival mansion was built for Edwin Kerrison, a dry goods merchant.

The four fluted columns on the portico are each topped with a variation of the Corinthian capital known as the "Tower of the Winds" capital...

Wednesday, 03 January 2018 16:52

4 South Battery - Villa Margherita

4 South Battery was built in 1895 by Andrew Simmonds for his young wife, a New Orleans debutante who was given eight names at birth (but everyone just called her Daisy). Andrew, the president of First National Bank in Charleston, constructed this South Battery mansion on the site of an earlier house. As you can see from the photograph, we are not talking an "intimate little cottage."

Tuesday, 26 December 2017 19:20

16 Meeting Street - Calhoun Mansion

16 Meeting Street is one of the grandest Victorian mansions in Charleston and was built in 1876 for approximately $200,000 by George Walton Williams, a successful merchant, wholesale grocer, blockade runner, and banker. The house became known as the Calhoun Mansion because one of the Williams' daughters married Patrick Calhoun, the grandson of John C. Calhoun, U.S. Senator, Vice President of the United States, and Secretary of State.

Monday, 18 December 2017 19:30

149 Wentworth Street

The Rodgers Mansion is right down the street and around the corner from the Mikell House that we visited last week. Built at a time when money was scarce in the south and most Charlestonians had embraced the "too poor to paint and too proud to whitewash" reality of life here, Francis Silas Rodgers gave Charleston one of its grandest homes.

Frank Rodgers was born in Charleston in 1842 and went into the cotton factoring business with his father. A factor was simply a broker or middleman; most cotton planters used cotton factors located in major ports like Charleston to sell their exports. Even after the Civil War, sea island cotton was a viable export in the South until the early part of the twentieth century when the boll weevil came along.

94 Rutledge Avenue is one of the truly grand houses in Charleston. Built in 1853 by Isaac Jenkins Mikell for his third of four wives, this house is the epitome of a planter's town house. Mikell was a wealthy planter of sea island cotton on Edisto, and I've heard local author Richard Porcher say that there was no finer cotton in the world than the sea island cotton grown on Edisto Island before the Civil War.

Monday, 04 December 2017 16:29

70 Tradd Street - Judge Robert Pringle House

70 Tradd Street was built in 1774 by Judge Robert Pringle. It is difficult to see the depth of the house and later piazza due to the high gate in front of the driveway, but the house is on a double lot, ensuring enough property for a long driveway and garden to the side. The bay window, added to the front of the house in the Victorian era, adds to the interest of the street façade of 70 Tradd. As you can see from the photograph, the house invites passersby to stop and look.

At 102 Tradd Street, the two-story wooden house built around 1760, we again meet the Grimke and Fraser families. The first time we ran into them was at 55 King Street, the Grimke-Fraser tenements built around 1762 and later used by artist Charles Fraser as his residence.

Originally owned by Frederick Grimke, who built the tenements at 55 King, 102 Tradd became the home of the Frasers; Grimke's daughter Mary married Alexander Fraser and they lived here with their children. One of their sons, Frederick, scratched part of his name...

Monday, 20 November 2017 14:59

106 Tradd Street - The John Stuart House

106 Tradd is a single house -- but one with a difference. Yes, it's still one room wide, but it is one of the few early residences built with a side hall. As you can see, the front door is not a false door leading to a piazza. This front door opens into the side hall. The typical single house built before 1800 had its main doorway on the side, usually in the center.

The house at 106 Tradd Street was built around 1772 by Colonel John Stuart. Stuart, originally from Scotland, became an important man in Charles Town before the American Revolution; in 1762, he was appointed the King's superintendent...

Monday, 13 November 2017 14:42

126 Tradd Street

As we continue exploring Tradd Street, we’ll visit number 126 (next door to the Humphrey Sommers House we visited last week), which was built around 1732 by Alexander Smith. In 1790, Dr. Peter Fayssoux and his wife Ann became owners of the property. Dr. Fayssoux, born in Charles Town, was of French Huguenot heritage; he was one of many Huguenots in Charles Town who rose to prominence and served his city and community well.

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