Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon, Charleston
The Old Exchange began its existence as a public building and remains so today. Owned by the South Carolina Society of the Daughters of American Revolution, the Old Exchange offers public tours of its three floors that highlight various aspects of Charleston history during the Colonial and Revolutionary eras and put into context the people and events of the period. The Old Exchange was presented a lot of history with wonderful tales of pirates and patriots.
In April of 1670 a group of colonists in two English ships, the Carolina and a nameless sloop, entered what is now Charleston harbor and proceeded up what is now the Ashley River. The English ships sailed past a large, gleaming white oyster bank to their right. It was later named Oyster Point and, still later, White Point Gardens. They proceeded up the river past marshes, trees, and creeks, past the present site of the two Ashley River bridges, and landed on the first high ground on the western bank of the Ashley River, which they named Albemarle Point, now Charles Towne Landing. They were five miles from the sea, just south of an Indian village. They named the settlement Charles Town in honor of King Charles II of England.
The character of Charleston was indelibly stamped with the character of Charles II and his reign. The aristocratic city that developed in the 18th and 19th centuries reflected Restoration England just as 18th and 19th century Boston reflected Puritan England. In fact, the early Charlestonians, like the early Bostonians, came to the New World on their own “errand into the wilderness”: to recreate the luxurious, cosmopolitan, pleasure-filled world of Restoration England. Charleston was the namesake of one of the most hedonistic of English monarchs, and its unspoken mission was to build a miniature aristocratic London in the midst of a recreated English countryside inhabited by a landed gentry.
Charles Town, the only fortified city in English America, become Charlestown, fourth largest, most beautiful, and wealthiest city in colonial America? due to the shipping trade; rice, indigo, and slavery were the major ingredients in the original Low Country recipe, and it was on that simple but powerful economy that colonial Charlestown was built.
In August 10, 1979 in the Old Exchange Building was restored for a low bid of $1,637,000, During the complete renovation of the building, John M. Mitchell Jr., who acted as project architect, made some interesting discoveries. The vaulted ceilings of the cellar are only one brick thick at the point of the vault, an engineering masterpiece. The vaults are leveled above with loads of sand to support the original purbeck stone of the main floor. In the sand, Mitchell found single unbroken oyster shells. It appears the workmen over two hundred years ago helped themselves to oysters growing along the riverbanks at the front of the building, ate the oysters for lunch, then tossed the shells into the sand they were using for fill. Another discovery was the original wood in the attic of the building. Here huge beams bear the ax marks of hand-hewn timber, and some attic supports are tied together with wedge-shaped bars pounded into metal bands, another early construction technique. Wooden beams supporting the original cupola were left amid the rafters, and some original window boxes were also discovered. Most window boxes, the part which houses the weights that enable the windows to open and close, are made with several pieces of wood. Those in the Exchange were made of single pieces of wood, with the weight chamber hollowed out in dugout canoe fashion. These were stored in the attic for further study. The Old Exchange is a National Historic Landmark, beautifully restored and open as a living museum.
Pirates, Presidents and 300 years of history--that's what you'll learn about at the Old Exchange, included in an area of the city known as Museum Mile--a historic area where a concentrated number of noteworthy buildings are situated. On our walking tour, we learned that it is one of America's three most historic colonial-era public buildings, constructed in 1771.
In this very building "Gentleman Pirate" Stede Bonnet was imprisoned, South Carolina declared its independence from England and President George Washington visited during his Southern tour of states. But there were many other events in its three centuries that make this a worthwhile visit.
You'll want to visit the Provost Dungeon, where 'animatronic' figures bring Pirate history alive--arrrrgh! I'm sure any child will think this is the highlight of your visit!
Hours are daily 9am-5pm. Admission is $8 for adults; $4 for kids 7-12; $4 for students; 6 and under free
There is a lot of history in this old building, the fact that stands out the most for me, is that George Washington was the guest of honor here in 1791. To learn more about all the history, click on the link below. When you visit Charleston, be sure to visit and walk on the dance floor where George Washington danced with over 250 ladies. Also, go down in the dungeon and see what a 2.5 million bricks looks like. These bricks have been in place for over two centuries through hurricanes, earthquakes and war! For history buffs, this building is a must.
I have not visited this building. I took the picture out of the car window and it got 'stuck' in my computer as my wallpaper which was really annoying.
Apparently this is a really historic building in Charleston. This is where the tea was held in confiscation when taxes were to be collected before the Revolution.
According to the website below, in 1773:
"A meeting at the Exchange was called on December 3 because 257 chests of East India Company tea had arrived in Charlestown two days before in Captain Alexander Curling’s ship, the London. George Gabriel Powell was elected chairman of the meeting, and it became apparent in the ensuing debate that most of the citizens present favored absolute non-importation of teas subject to tax. The East India Company consignees, who were present at the meeting, received the thanks and applause of the assembly when they promised not to accept the tea....
"December 22, 1773. Robert Dalway Haliday, the collector of customs for Charlestown, had the tea shipment seized, unloaded, and stored in the warehouse under the Exchange for non-payment of duties. Since the consignees refused to receive the tea, it became liable to seizure by the crown after twenty days in port...
"The tea remained in the Exchange until the government of the province fell into the hands of the patriots, and it was sold in 1776 to provide funds for defense against the British."
Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon
History comes to life. Over 300 years of Pirates, Patriots and Presidents in the original Exchange and Customs House built by the British in 1771.
Animatronic figures recreate Historic Events. See a portion of Charleston's ORIGINAL sea wall.
In the Great Hall of the Exchange in 1773, citizens of Charles Town met to protest the Tea Act. While tea in Boston was being dumped into the harbor, in Charles Town it was seized, stored in the cellar of the Exchange Building, and later sold to help fund the patriot cause.
In the same hall in 1774, South Carolina's delegates to the Continental Congress were elected, the group responsible for drafting the Declaration of Independence. Charles Town produced four signers of the Declaration of Independence: Arthur Middleton, Thomas Lynch, Jr., Thomas Heyward, Jr., and Edward Rutledge.
On March 28, 1776, South Carolina declared independence from Great Britain from the steps of the Exchange.