This old city is known for its churches, which dominate the entire skyline. From its beginning, Charleston had great diversity of religious belief and practice. That has not changed; all of these churches remain in use today, with active congregations.
St Phillip's Episcopal Church, (146 Church St), was completed in 1838, on the site of an older wooden church. A national historic landmark, it houses the oldest congregation in South Carolina, and the first Anglican church south of Virginia.
St Michael's (80 Meeting St) was completed in 1761, and is one of the finest colonial churches in the country. During the Revolution, it became the center of resistance to the British; the steeple was often targeted by British naval gunners. Both George Washington and Robert E. Lee worshipped here at one time.
The French Huguenot Church (136 Church St), the third to be built on this site, was completed in 1845. Designed by Edward Brickell White, it was the first Gothic Revival church in the city. It now has the only active French Calvinist congregation in the entire US.
First Scots Presbyterian (53 Meeting St) is the fifth oldest church in Charleston. The seal of the Church of Scotland is displayed in the stained glass window over the main entrance. It was built in 1814, but the congregation itself began in 1731.
Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim Synagogue (90 Hasell St) is the oldest one in continuous use in the country. The name means Holy Congregation House of God. The congregation here began in 1749, making it the fourth-oldest in the country. The American Jewish reform movement began here in 1824. This is one of the city's best examples of Greek Revival style architecture.
This street is named after the colorful homes here. These homes were owned by owners who were previsouly sugar barons in the carribean and painted their homes in the colorful style of Barbados where they had come from.
The Four Corners of the Law is at the intersection of Broad and Meeting Streets. It acquired this name for the four prominent civic buildings which stand on opposite corners of this intersection. They are the City Hall, County Courthouse, US Post Office, and St Michael's Episcopal Church.
The City Hall was completed in 1804, in the Adamesque style. The land was granted by the city to the Federal government. It was originally a branch of the First Bank of the United States. It was designed by Gabriel Manigault, credited with importing the Adamesque style from Europe. In 1811, Congress revoked the bank's charter, whereupon this building reverted to city ownership. It became City Hall in 1818.
The Charleston County Courthouse was built in 1753, and reconstructed in 1792. It has had many modifications, but was recently restored to its 18th century appearance. It remains a working courthouse.
The US Post Office was designed by John Henry Deveraux, an Irish immigrant. Built in 1896, it is a Renaissance Revival style building. It is still a working post office and Federal office building.
St Michael's Episcopal Church was completed in 1761, A National Historic Landmark, it was a focal point of colonial resistance to British rule during the War of Independence. That also made it a target for British artillery. Both George Washington and Robert E. Lee worshipped here.
The old part of Charleston is known for its houses. There are so many, I can only cite a few of the more beautiful and historic examples here. The information came from historical plaques in front of these homes. All of them remain private residences.
The Brandon-Horry house was built in 1751, by William Brandon, a planter and member of the Colonial Assembly. His grandson, Elias Horry, added the piazzas in 1826. Horry was twice elected mayor of Charleston, and was also President of the College of Charleston and of the South Carolina Railroad.
The Huger House, built in 1860, is a fine example of Georgian architecture. It was home of the last royal governor, Lord William Campbell, who fled after the War of Independence. Daniel Huger then acquired the house, which has remained in the Huger family ever since.
Lafayette visited here in 1825.
The William Bull House, built in 1720, is among the oldest in the city. Bull became Lt. Governor of South Carolina.
The Poyas-Mordecai House was built in 1788. Moses Cohen Mordecai bought it in 1837, and added the piazzas. Mordecai was a blockade runner during the Civil War, and lost the house and his entire fortune. He fled to Baltimore, where he acquired a new fortune. In 1870, he had the remains of Confederates who had died at Gettysburg shipped home, at his own expense.
The Ravenel House, built in 1796, was originally a summer home. The property itself had belonged to Daniel Ravenel's wife, whose family had owned it since 1710. They had been French Huguenots.
Majestic mansions in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, especially the "Battery" waterfront will marvel any student of Architecture. From Colonial to Gerorgian, Victorian, etc. A hodgepodge of styles dating back to the 1700's . In one city block at least four different architectural styles can be found. Most come with a hefty price tag.
Private houses and gardens in historic Charleston are very well maintained. Walking around the city you will see many windows with bright flower boxes as well as wrought iron gates, cobblestone streets, and many other details.
Our tour of Charleston started at the corner of Meeting and Broad, listed in Ripley's Believe it or Not as the only place where four branches of the law sit, federal, state, city and canon. The federal courthouse and post office respresent federal law, the state courthouse represents state law, City Hall represents city law and St. Michael's represents canon (church) law.
We didn't visit the state or federal courthouses but we did go inside City Hall, unfortunately during lunch so we couldn't visit the council chambers but you can still peek inside as the doors have glass in them.
We also visited St. Michael's with out guide, it was built in 1752 and is Charleston's oldest surviving church. The guide pointed out the private box where George Washington sat when he visited the church and the Tiffany stained glass windows.
Hibernian Hall was built in 1840 for the Irish benevolent organization called the Hibernian Society. The structure features distinctive white Corinthian columns and Irish harps on the gate and the front facade of the building. This structure was severely damaged in the 1886 earthquake, but was later restored.
This hall was the headquarters of Stephen A. Douglas' delegates during the 1860 Democratic National Convention. This convention resulted in a split between pro-slavery southern Democrats and more moderate Northern Democrats, and they ultimately decided to put two different Presidential candidates on the ballot. This allowed Abraham Lincoln to win the election, leading to Southern succession. This is the only surviving building Charleston that was associated with the 1860 convention.
The Charleston United States Customs House was constructed on the site of an old Colonial-era fortification called Craven's Bastion. Construction began in 1853, was delayed by the Civil War, then was finally completed in 1879. Since its completion, the building has always served as an office space for customs house officials. This large structure is known for its granite and marble construction and the Corinthian limestone columns at either entrance. The original design included a tall dome in the center, but was later removed due to the cost.
This historic building once hosted a dance attended by George Washington and was the former site of the city jail. It's open to tourists where the tour is guided by tour guides in period costumes.
Completed in 1879 and a fine example of the stately architecture of Charleston, this building is still in use today for Customs collection.
After the earthquake of 1886, earthquake bolts were installed to help make the buildiings more sturdy. There are five on this building.
Beautiful colorful & historic homes many with plaques dating back to the 1600's. Loved the southern gardens on the sides of the homes. We could have walked around the historic district forever.