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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.”

Monday, 23 July 2018 09:55

59 Church Street - Thomas Rose House

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59 Church Street is one of largest early houses in the original walled city of Charles Town; two and a half stories with dormers, the house was built by Lowcountry planter Thomas Rose around 1735. Rose’s wife, Beauler Elliott, inherited the lot with a previous house on it from her father, Thomas Elliott.

Rose tore down the previous house and replaced it with the structure you see today, minus the side piazza. Originally constructed as a double house, the front door was centered with two windows on each side facing Church Street (much like 69 Church Street which we looked at two weeks ago). In 1734, Rose had written his brother in England to send bricklayers to him; 59 Church Street is brick covered with stucco. The house has been painted the soft buttery yellow ever since I can remember. 

Monday, 16 July 2018 10:13

76 Church Street – DuBose Heyward House

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76 Church Street was built around 1785 and appears small and charming, which I’m sure it was when DuBose Heyward, Charleston native and author of the novel Porgy, lived there between 1919 and 1924.

Monday, 09 July 2018 10:03

69 Church Street: The Capers Motte House

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69 Church Street is one of the finest properties in Charleston and is packed with history. This Georgian double house was built between 1745-1750, at which time Charles Town was the fourth largest port in America and possibly the wealthiest.

The brick house covered with soft pink stucco is 7,513 square feet, and the property is .29 acres. This large property has five exquisitely landscaped garden rooms, a pool and a kitchen house connected to the main house by a Charleston "hyphen" (a modern term used to describe the connector built to join two structures). Although the photograph does not show it, the ceilings on the third floor are the same height as the first and second floors.

Monday, 02 July 2018 10:00

35 Meeting Street

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The lot at 35 Meeting Street was acquired by Stephen Bull in 1694, and his son William built the stuccoed brick house (minus the piazzas, which were added much later) around 1720. Three and one-half stories on top of a raised basement make this single-family residence one of the most imposing houses of the colonial era in Charleston. 35 Meeting Street is also a house infused with the early history of Charles Town.

The Bull family, originally from England, was much involved in the early proprietary and royal governments. Stephen Bull of Kingshurst Hall, Warwickshire, England came to Carolina in 1670 on the first ship to settle here, the "Carolina." He came as the personal representative of Lord Anthony Ashley Cooper, one of the eight Lords Proprietors to whom King Charles II gave the land known as Carolina in gratitude for the restoration of the English monarchy. 

Tuesday, 26 June 2018 09:20

34 Meeting Street

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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.

Monday, 18 June 2018 08:57

143-145 Church Street aka "The Pirate House"

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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.

Monday, 11 June 2018 10:41

The Four Corners of Law: St. Michael's Church Part II

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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.

Monday, 04 June 2018 10:03

The Four Corners of Law: St. Michael's Church Part I

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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."

Wednesday, 30 May 2018 09:38

The Four Corners of Law: United States Post Office and Court House Part II

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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!

Monday, 21 May 2018 14:49

The Four Corners of Law: United States Post Office and Court House Part I

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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.

Monday, 14 May 2018 13:40

The Four Corners of Law: Old SC Statehouse, Charleston County Courthouse Part II

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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.

Monday, 07 May 2018 11:51

The Four Corners of Law: Old SC Statehouse, Charleston County Courthouse Part I

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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.

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