A History Nerd Changes a Non-Believer in Charleston, South Carolina

By Triona Fihaley

Tuesday, November 6, 2018 was a day unlike any other, this was a day that I went to Charleston, South Carolina with a mission. That mission in question was to turn my roommate, who finds history to be one the most boring subject, into a woman who finds it interesting.

Our first stop on my personal tour of the historical district was the visitor center which originally was one of the five railroad buildings known collectively as the William Aiken House and Associated Railroad. We walked down the road to the Charleston City Market where Charles Cotesworth Pinckney wanted a public market, so sheds were erected from Market Hill to waterfront and Edward Brickwell White made the blueprints for the Greek Revival-Style building to paid homage to the Temple of the Wingless Victory in Athens for the front show piece. From there we briefly stepped onto the College of Charleston campus. I remember that the college was founded in 1770 which became the oldest educational institution south of Virginia during the colonial period.

This is where we start a self-guided tour of the city. The first stop on the tour was a couple of the oldest churches in Charleston which are the Circular Congregational Church and St. Phillip’s Church. Circular Congregational Church started out in 1681 with Charles Towne’s English Congregationalists, Scots Presbyterian, and French Huguenots. The graveyard became the oldest burial ground with monuments, the first meeting house gave Meeting Street its name, and soon finally the Old Circular was taken down in a hurricane of fire in 1861. Saint Phillip’s Church where it is today was the third one built, the first one built in 1680 was destroyed by a hurricane and the second one was built between 1710-1713 to which is almost got destroyed by a hurricane before being burned.

We did brief go by a couple of the historic homes while we were there including the Aiken-Rhett House, Grimke Sisters’ House, Middleton-Pinckeny House, Nathaniel Russel House, Heyward-Washington House, and so on. I think I will always remember that we saw Rainbow Row which was made up of waterfront merchant ; they have became run down until Dorothy Porcher Legge fixed them up.

We stopped by a couple of the parks which including the Battery and Waterfront. Waterfront holds the famous Pineapple Fountain, which was installed after Hurricane Hugo to show a common symbol and hospitality. The Battery came to be after the War of 1812 when the British began a blockade of Charleston and large caliber guns were place along White Point.

A few unique things we saw were the four corners of law which is St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, Charleston City Hall, Charleston County Courthouse, and Federal Courthouse/US Post Office or the place where you can get married, get taxed, get divorced and go to jail all within thirty minutes. The other was a couple of the oldest streets in Charleston due to them still being cobblestoned.

I thought we should end our day with a couple museum trips which included the Old Slave Mart, Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon, The Powder and Mag Museum and the South Carolina Aquarium. The Old Slave Mart Museum is the last extant slave auction facility in South Carolina and Old Exchange has been a commercial exchange, custom house, post office city hall, military headquarters, and museum to which this is one of the four remining buildings where the Constitution was ratified. The Powder and Mag Museum is the oldest government building in South Carolina to which it held arsenal to defend the colony.

This ends my trip in Charleston, South Carolina to which I asked my roommate how she feels about history now. “Now being in Charleston and getting to see it, I would say that if you make history interactive and more fun than maybe history will better to learn.”

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