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The Charleston Insider

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Diary of a Charleston Tour Guide

Diary of a Charleston Tour Guide

“Local history, occasional anecdotes, personal reflections of a Charleston tour guide.”

Tuesday, 09 July 2019 14:22

1 Meeting Street

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The property at 1 Meeting Street sold in 2014 for $4.2 million; the new owners have spent the past several years in extensive renovation efforts. The photograph shown is taken from the South Battery side of the house because the Meeting Street side with the front door gives little indication to the massive size of this house...

Monday, 01 July 2019 10:24

28 South Battery

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This week we simply go next door from last week's post and visit 28 South Battery, built in 1860. While we don't have a sprawling Italian villa like 26 Battery, we do have the second floor arcades that mimic the house next door.

This approximately 5,000 square foot house was built by George S. Cook, the famous Civil War photographer. Cook, an orphan, later attempted several unsuccessful careers, but found his calling when the daguerreotype was born. He would set up a studio in a town, teach photography, then sell his business to his students and move to another town. He finally came to Charleston in 1849, built 28 South Battery the same year South Carolina seceded from the Union, and proceeded to document the Civil War here in photographs. Cook is also known for his photographs of the 1886 earthquake in Charleston.

Tuesday, 25 June 2019 14:37

26 South Battery

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This week we visit 26 South Battery, built by one of the sons of Colonel John Ashe whom we met last week when we reviewed his house at 32 South Battery. While Colonel Ashe’s eldest son inherited 32 South Battery, one of his younger sons John Algernon Sydney Ashe inherited the lot at 26 South Battery, one of the largest in the area, and approximately $10,000 to build his
residence.

Tuesday, 18 June 2019 14:31

32 South Battery

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This week we visit 32 South Battery, just a few doors down from last week’s post. Built around 1782, 32 South Battery originally enjoyed a front row view of the Ashley River and Charleston Harbor across what is now White Point Gardens, the first public park in Charleston. The view is still good, and the mansion commanded a huge price when it was sold in 2015: $7.72 million.

32 South Battery was built for Colonel John Ashe, a wealthy gentleman who made his fortune in shipping; appropriately, the framing of the house used wooden pegs similar to those in shipbuilding. The construction is attributed to Mr. Miller of the Miller and Fullerton partnership. Miller’s partner was Scottish master builder John Fullerton whose name is associated with several grand houses in Charleston during this era.

Thursday, 13 June 2019 08:20

20 South Battery

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This week we simply go around the block to 20 South Battery, an 1843 mansion.  When built, this grand house had a front row view of the Ashley River and Charleston Harbor across what is now White Point Gardens.

 

Thursday, 06 June 2019 09:09

15 Meeting Street - John Edwards House

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This week we're strolling back down Meeting Street to Number 15, a pre-Revolutionary house constructed around 1770. Imagine that there is no semicircular piazza on the side (which there wasn't in 1770), and you're looking at a double house in the Georgian style, which is all about harmony and balance, right down to the double staircase leading to the front entry.

Some may wonder what stone was used to build 15 Meeting because that is certainly what the façade appears to be...

Tuesday, 28 May 2019 09:38

135 Meeting Street - Gibbes Museum of Art

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Returning to downtown, we visit the Gibbes Museum of Art at 135 Meeting Street. Most locals refer to 135 Meeting as “the Gibbes” (and probably have no idea what the street number is). The Gibbes is the historic hub of the visual arts in Charleston.

Before the Gibbes was built, there was the Carolina Art Association of Charleston, chartered by the state legislature in 1858 to promote the arts, including art classes and exhibitions. There were several interruptions to the local arts, such as the Civil War, and in 1892, lack of funds caused the closure of the Carolina Art Association’s art school.

Monday, 20 May 2019 11:17

Middleton Place

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Exploring further afield again, we travel to Middleton Place, not far from Drayton Hall, which we visited several weeks ago. Along Highway 61, you will see the signs and markers for Middleton Place. As with Drayton Hall, this visit will take you back into the early history of our region and our nation.

The Middletons, like the Draytons, came to Carolina from Barbados. In 1678, Edward Middleton arrived in Carolina and established his plantation, The Oaks, near Goose Creek. The plantation was eventually inherited by Edward's grandson Henry Middleton around 1737...

Monday, 13 May 2019 13:30

456 King Street - William Aiken House

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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