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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!”

Tuesday, 22 August 2017 13:21

8 Legare Street

Continuing on Legare Street, we’ll stop at Number 8, a house that resonates with Charleston history.

Built in 1857, 8 Legare was first owned by Charlestonian Cleland Kinloch Huger (pronounced “U-gee”).  Patrick O’Donnell, an Irish immigrant, was the contractor for this imposing structure which was built in the Italianate style.  Here we are greeted by another pair of grand gateposts with a wrought iron gate. This gate with the elongated harps is thought to be...

Thursday, 17 August 2017 16:16

14 Legare Street - The Pineapple Gates House

As we continue up Legare Street, we will stop at Number 14, known as the Simmons-Edwards House, but more famous for its “Pineapple Gates.”

Francis Simmons built 14 Legare Street around 1800. The brick single house, made taller due to the raised basement, is a good example of the Federal style of architecture.  Federal style was born out of and is similar to...

Tuesday, 08 August 2017 14:31

32 Legare Street - The Sword Gate House

We know a wall existed in 1818; over the ensuing years, the house has been modified and enhanced several times. The garden is a treat, and sometimes is open to the public during fall or spring tours. And, if you've got money, 32 Legare is currently on the market - for $19.5 million...

No matter who buys it, 32 Legare will forever be associated with...

For my second diary post on the Heyward-Washington House, we'll be investigating 87 Church Street's connection to President George Washington and the building's history to present.

During President Washington's Southern Tour in 1791, the City of Charleston leased 87 Church for the President and his retinue (which was far less than the number required to travel with presidents now) for one week. That single week seared Washington's stamp on both Charleston and 87 Church Street.

Part I - Thomas Heyward

We get a double portion of Founding Fathers with the Heyward-Washington House at 87 Church Street, as this building is associated with both Thomas Heyward, one of South Carolina's four signers of the Declaration of Independence, and George Washington, General of the American forces during the Revolutionary War and the first President of the United States. In 1770, the rice planter Daniel Heyward bought the property at 87 Church Street and later sold it to his son Thomas...

Friday, 14 July 2017 18:41

The Edward Rutledge House

My last post addressed the John Rutledge House; I return to the Rutledge family in this post, highlighting the house across the street which John’s younger brother, Edward Rutledge, owned and lived in.

117 Broad Street was built around 1760 by James Laurens. This land was once part of an orange grove (which is why the next street over is called “Orange Street”). Even though the house is pre-revolutionary, Edward Rutledge did not live there before or during the American Revolution.

Wednesday, 05 July 2017 19:00

The John Rutledge House

The month of July is associated with the founding of our nation, and my next several diary posts will highlight the Charleston homes of some of our founding fathers. I start with John Rutledge and his home at 116 Broad Street. Built around 1763 for his bride, you have to imagine it without (1) the top floor and (2) all the cast ironwork, both of which were additions by later owners to the structure. In 1763 it would have been recognizable as a fine Georgian-style house, embodying the principles of balance and harmony as essential to that period.

116 Broad Street was built for John’s bride, Elizabeth Grimke, and it speaks of his love and high regard for her. They had ten children and were married for approximately 30 years until Elizabeth’s death in 1792.

Monday, 19 June 2017 17:40

US Custom House

 The Custom House at 200 East Bay Street is, in my opinion, the premier landmark in historic downtown Charleston. One of our city’s most imposing public buildings, almost everyone is familiar with it, making the Custom House great to use as a reference point.  When meeting someone there, it’s wise not to stipulate “front” or “back,” which can be confusing since both entrances appear identical.  It’s much better to say the “Cooper River side” or the “East Bay side.”

Wednesday, 24 May 2017 13:20

The Dock Street Theatre

A free and “not to be missed” Charleston offering is the historic Dock Street Theatre at 135 Church Street. Many locals simply call it “The Dock Street.” The Dock Street is open Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. unless an event is being hosted or it’s a holiday. It also provides the perfect respite for the hot and weary tourist, especially near the end of a two-hour walking tour, with its beauty, air conditioning and restrooms.

Early theatrical productions in America were brought to towns by traveling groups of actors and usually performed in taverns...

Monday, 08 May 2017 13:56

The Charleston Market

The Charleston Market (or just the Market as locals call it) has been integral to Charleston since a public market was planned at this site around 1788. A beef market was originally located at the northeast corner of Broad and Meeting Streets, but later burned. In 1788, the Pinckney family deeded the land on which the Market now exists to the City of Charles Town specifically to be developed as a public market.  The Pinckneys were farsighted about the use and future of this property; the deed even had language that is known today as a reverter clause, i.e. if the City ever chose not to use the land as a market, the land would revert back to the Pinckney family and heirs.

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