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...
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.
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...
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."
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.
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.
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.
The French Huguenot Church is on the southeast corner of Church and Queen Streets. Across the street is the Dock Street Theatre, and straight ahead is St. Philip's Episcopal Church as Church Street curves around it. A French Huguenot Church has stood on this site, in the midst of these historic buildings, since 1687.
Huguenots were French Protestants who followed the teachings of John Calvin. Under the 1598 Edict of Nantes, Huguenots were allowed to practice their religion in France, which was primarily Catholic at the time. In 1685, King Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes, and Huguenots began leaving France to escape persecution.
St. Philip’s Church at 146 Church Street is the mother church of Anglicanism in Charleston. This English colony, founded in 1670, served as a beacon of religious tolerance, which was written into the governing document of Carolina. Anglicanism would have been the “state” religion since we were an English colony but other religions were welcomed here.