34 Meeting Street


Approaching June 28, Carolina Day, and July 4, Independence Day, we visit 34 Meeting Street with its long and storied history, especially in connection with the birth of the United States. The large pre-Revolutionary structure is a double house, two rooms wide and two rooms deep; the piazza was added after 1900. Constructed around 1760 by the Bull family, the house was rented by Lord William Campbell in 1775 while serving as the last royal governor of South Carolina.

Born in Scotland in 1730, the younger son of the Duke of Argyll, Campbell joined the British Royal Navy. On a visit to Charles Town, he met a local girl named Sarah Izard, whom he married in 1763. Campbell served as the royal governor of Nova Scotia, and in 1775 he was appointed royal governor of South Carolina. The timing was unfortunate; South Carolina, together with the other English colonies, were in rebellion and Lord Campbell lasted about four months, from June to September 1775. The situation became so dangerous for the Campbells that the couple snuck out of 34 Meeting Street in the middle of the night, went through the back yard to escape in a small boat moored in the marsh near Vanderhorst's Creek (now Water Street). Rowing out to a British ship in the harbor, the Campbells boarded and escaped to the safety of England.

Lord Campbell returned to the area briefly. He was with Admiral Sir Peter Parker and the British Royal Navy when they were soundly defeated in the ten-hour battle on June 28, 1776 that they waged against Colonel William Moultrie and his men at an unfinished palmetto log fort known as Fort Sullivan (now Fort Moultrie) on Sullivan's Island. This was the first major naval victory for the American patriots in the Revolutionary War and the reason South Carolina is called "The Palmetto State." Lord Campbell sustained injuries in this battle that eventually led to his death in 1778. Sarah Izard never returned to her family or the land of her birth; she died in England around 1784.

The Huger family, which continues to own 34 Meeting Street today, purchased the house in 1818 when Daniel Elliott Huger was a state representative. His wife Mary Middleton was a daughter of Arthur Middleton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and his wife Mary Izard, who was the first cousin of Sarah Izard Campbell or Lady Campbell. (Looking into family relationships is like getting into the weeds because they crop up everywhere...)

Join me next week as we continue strolling around the city.