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Monday, 01 May 2017 09:21

Two Meeting Street

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My last Diary post centered on White Point Garden, and now I want to explore the immediate vicinity a bit more. In keeping with “White Point Garden Weddings” occurring across the street in the park, 2 Meeting Street was essentially a wedding gift presented by George Williams to his daughter Martha. One of very few individuals in the impoverished South who was wealthy after the Civil War, George Williams built his home at 16 Meeting Street, a Victorian mansion of approximately 24,000 square feet, around 1876.

In 1890, Martha Williams married Waring Parker Carrington, a jeweler in his family’s business on King Street, in an elaborate wedding at Trinity Methodist Church a little farther up on Meeting Street. The story goes that Mr. Williams gave his daughter a check in the amount of $75,000 on her wedding day (a whole lot more in today’s currency) to build the exquisite Queen Anne style house at 2 Meeting, completed around 1892. In 1895 for their fifth wedding anniversary, the newlyweds gave each other Tiffany windows. I’ve heard but not found documentation (so it may be just legend) that Louis Comfort Tiffany himself traveled to Charleston to install them.

Perhaps Mr. Williams wanted to keep his youngest daughter close by. In any event, family was an important component of Southern culture and frequently included elderly and other relatives either living nearby or in the same house. During that era in Charleston and the surrounding Lowcountry, many people were related by blood or marriage. One statement I’ve heard all my life is “everybody around here is related, it’s just whether you claim each other.”

Interestingly, many people refer to 2 Meeting Street as the “honeymoon or wedding cottage” because of (1) the structure’s origin and/or (2) the fact that “Two Meeting Street Inn” has been operating as a bed and breakfast in Charleston for many years, one that is quite popular as a “honeymoon destination.”  Unpretentious and charming, 2 Meeting Street is also a favorite of local and visiting artists and photographers.

Martha Williams Carrington gave the funds to build the Williams Music Pavilion in White Point Garden, also known locally as the Gazebo or the Bandstand, in honor of her mother who died in 1905 (you can see her initials inscribed inside). The structure was completed in 1907 and used for concerts in the park. Unfortunately, the use of the Gazebo to host concerts in White Point Garden ceased years ago. Who knows, perhaps the City will revive them. In the meantime, if you want music, you have to bring your own.

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!”