Landmarks of Charleston Including description of An Incomparable Stroll
St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, Broad and Meeting Streets: its Steeple and Chimes FamousCourtesy of South Carolina National Bank
INCLUDING DESCRIPTION OF
An Incomparable Stroll
THOMAS PETIGRU LESESNE
History of Charleston County
GARRETT & MASSIE, INCORPORATED
COPYRIGHT, 1939, BY
GARRETT & MASSIE, INCORPORATED
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
One’s task in discussing Landmarks of Charleston isto describe the more outstanding from the beginningof Charles Town to this present year. It is an agreeabletask, but it leaves undone some things one wishes he haddone.
An Incomparable Stroll will give the visitor informationof people and places of Charles Town under the LordsProprietors, Charlestown under the Royal Government, andCharleston under the Republic.
The gardens which bring thousands of visitors to Charlestoneach spring are reached by excellent highways. MiddletonPlace and Magnolia-on-the-Ashley are on the AshleyRiver Road; Cypress off the Coastal Highway, United States52. These gardens are so different that they are not competitive,and the visitor questing for beauty that baffles descriptionshould see all three, and, time permitting, journey towardGeorgetown and enjoy the famous Belle Isle Gardens,on Winyah Bay.
In this work the index has been compiled with greatcare and should be consulted freely. Charleston’s pointsviof interest are too scattered to be grouped on a single route.Near Charleston are traces of fortifications used in theRevolution and in the War for Southern Independence.They are too numerous for individual enumeration. Bookshave been written about them.
From the building of the Colonial Powder Magazine tothe building of the Cooper River Bridge, the third highestvehicular bridge in the world, is a tremendous gap.
It is unnecessary to say that the author has consulted manyauthorities; his quotations suffice to reveal this.
Thomas Petigru Lesesne.
- Foreword v
- Historic Charleston 1
- An Incomparable Stroll 6
- Landmarks of Charleston (Guide Section) 13
- Index 105
- St. Michael’s Episcopal Church Frontispiece
- Fort Sumter from the Air 6
- Looking North on Meeting Street 18
- St. Philip’s Episcopal Church 25
- William Rhett House 31
- The Izard Houses 31
- Unitarian Church 36
- St. John’s Lutheran Church 36
- Huguenot Church 36
- First (Scotch) Presbyterian Church 43
- Bethel Methodist Church 43
- Alluring Views of Magnolia-on-Ashley 49
- St. Mary’s Catholic Church 56
- Cathedral of St. John the Baptist 61
- Trinity Methodist Church 61
- Trumbull’s Portrait of General George Washington 67
- City Hall 71
- College of Charleston 71
- The Old Exchange 71
- Middleton Place 76
- Miles Brewton House 81
- “Sword Gates” 81
- Gateway, Home of Herbert Ravenel Sass 81
- Lord William Campbell House 86
- William Washington House 86
- Monument to Defenders of Fort Moultrie 94
- Colonial Powder Magazine 94
- Strawberry, Chapel of Ease to Biggin 99
- St. James Church, Goose Creek 99
LANDMARKS OF CHARLESTON
Why Charleston? Three European nations were claimingthis southern country—the Spaniards called itFlorida, the French Carolina and the English Southern Virginia.The Spanish claim was through Ponce de Leon, 1512;the French through Verazzano, a Florentine, 1524, and theEnglish, it is said, by virtue of a grant by the Pope of Rome,and through John Cabot and his son, Sebastian, both of themin the service of the English King Henry VII, 1497-98. ToEdward, Earl of Clarendon, and his associates Charles II ofEngland gave a charter in 1663—“excited by a laudable andpious zeal for the propagation of the Gospel.”
The Proprietors planted colonists on the Albemarle andthe Cape Fear, North Carolina. Things did not go well andmany of these people subsequently found their way to oldCharles Town, which was established, not by English design,but through circumstances. Robert Sandford, “Secretary andChiefe Register for the Lords Proprietors of their County ofClarendon,” had explored this coast in the summer of 1666,2and would have seen the site of Charles Town, but his Indianpilot confused his bearings “until it was too late.” Sandfordhowever, renamed the River Kiawah the Ashley in honor ofAshley-Cooper, later the Earl of Shaftesbury, one of theProprietors.
Sandford, off Edisto, near Charles Town, was sought bythe Cassique, or Chief, of the Kiawah Indians and importunedto plant an English colony near the Kiawah villageon the west bank of the Kiawah (Ashley) River. The Cassique,Sandford related, was known to the Clarendon colonists.Sandford agreed to investigate, but missed the entranceand chose to lose no further time by putting back. The Sandfordreport so impressed the Proprietors that they authorizedthe planting of a colony, not at Charles Town, but at PortRoyal, to the south. Colonel William Sayle, soldier of fortune,was commissioned Governor when Sir John Yeamans, alreadyGovernor of the more northern colony, left the adventurers.Three ships were in the enterprise, but one of these wasseparated. The other two made land at present-day Bull’sIsland in the spring of 1670. The Cassique of Kiawah wasthere and Governor Sayle was importuned to abandon PortRoyal and bring his colonists to the Kiawah country.
Sayle, however, followed his instructions and proceeded toPort Royal, arriving in mid-April of 1670. The Cassique ofKiawah had told the colonists that the Indians were on thewarpath and his story was confirmed. Carteret, who was inthe “friggott” Carolina, flagship, says: “Wee weighed fromPorte Royall and ran in between St. Hellena and Combohe(Combahee).” Here the first English election in Carolinawas held, five men “to be of the Council.”
The sloop which had come with the Carolina was “despatched3to Keyawah to view that land soe much commendedby the Casseeka,” and soon returned with “a report that yeland was much more fitt to plant than in St. Hellena whichbegott a question.... The Governour adhearing forKeyawah and most of us being of a temper to follow thoughwe know noe reason for it, imitating ye rule of ye inconsideratemultitude, cryed out for Keyawah, yet some dissentedfrom it being sure to make a new voyage, but difidentof a better convenience, those that inclyned for Porte Royallwere looked upon strangely, so thus wee came to Keyawah.”
So, it was the Cassique, or chief, of the Kiawahs, that wasresponsible for the choice of the site of old Charles Town.First the colonists named their settlement Albemarle Point,but in the fall of 1670 they renamed it Charles Town, inhonor of their King, Charles II. Carolina they named forhim also, but the French had previously called it Carolinafor their King, Charles IX. However, there were no Frenchin Carolina when the English colonists arrived; the Frencheffort at colonization had ended in tragedy, a hundred yearsbefore.
No sooner were the colonists established at AlbemarlePoint (where the Seaboard Air Line Railroad touches thewest shore of the Ashley) than they looked with favor onthe peninsula between the Ashley and the Cooper (theIndians called this river the Etiwan), as much the more desirablefor their town, and in 1680 the change was officiallyin force. The new town was facilitated by the voluntary actionof Henry Hughes and of John Coming and “Affera, hisWife,” in surrendering land for the new town. John Culpeperwas commissioned to plan it. “The Town is regularly4laid out into large and capacious streets,” said “T.A., Gent.,”clerk aboard H.M.S. Richmond, “in the year 1682.”
Charles Town on the peninsula prospered as a port andas the capital of the plantations. To ships in its commodiousharbor came the things of the fields, the woods and thestreams. Constantly new people were arriving and the outpostof civilization rapidly took on the appearance of Europeanmanners and customs, notwithstanding the incongruityof savages, red and black, and Indian traders in their bizarregarb. It was Charles Town under the Proprietors, Charlestownunder the Royal Government, and Charleston since itsincorporation in 1783.
This Carolina metropolis has had part in Indian, Spanishand French wars. It has had bold adventures with pirates.It was conspicuous in the Revolution and in the War forSouthern Independence. It furnished men for the famousPalmetto Regiment in the Mexican War. The War of 1812little affected it. Its men served in the Spanish-AmericanWar and the World War. It is said that from the tops of thehighest buildings come under the eye more historic placesthan come under it from any other place in the United States,explaining the slogan, Charleston—America’s Most HistoricCity. It is in order to remind that William Allen White, inan address, said that “Charleston is the most civilized townin America,” and that William Howard Taft, then Presidentof the United States, pronounced it, “the most convenientport to Panama.”
In Charleston survive buildings that were erected duringthe Proprietary Government, many buildings that wereerected during the Royal Government. Survive scars of warsand storms and fires that raged in the long ago. Survive street5names that were bestowed when Charles Town was in itsswaddling clothes. It is a far cry from old Charles Town,bounded on the south by Vanderhorst Creek (Water Street);on the west by earthworks and a moat (Meeting Street); onthe north by earthworks (Cumberland Street), and on theeast by the Cooper River. King, Queen and Princess Streetsare reminiscent of the Royal Régime. St. Philip’s, St.Michael’s, St. Andrew’s, Berkeley, and St. James, GooseCreek, were of the Church of England, under the Bishop ofLondon, albeit the present St. Philip’s was erected half acentury after the Revolution, replacing the Proprietary buildingthat was burned in 1835.
But this work is concerned, not with the history of Charleston,but with Landmarks of Charleston, and in the pagesthat follow are tales of prominent landmarks, places andbuildings that are storied. Eminent Carolinian names pass inreview. The greatness of the lustrous past is linked with themore convenient present. The Charles Town that was andthe Charleston that is are brought before the reader. Theauthor’s effort is to present the facts accurately.
Outstanding landmarks include Fort Sumter, Fort Moultrie,the Old Exchange Building, the Powder Magazine, theRhett and Trott Houses for their antiquity, the Miles BrewtonHouse as enemy headquarters in the Revolution and theWar for Southern Independence.
Fort Sumter from the Air
An Incomparable Stroll
Would you, guest within the gates of Charleston, seethings reminiscent of old Charles Town rubbing elbowswith things of modern Charleston? Take this stroll, a littlemore than a mile, and you will be abundantly compensated.
Begin at the Mosque of Omar Temple of the MysticShrine, on the site of the Granville Bastion, southeasternedge of Charles Town in 1680. Proceed, southward, alongEast (or High) Battery, washed by the Cooper River. Youbehold the harbor declared by Admiral Dickins capable ofaccommodating the fleets of the world at one time. Seawardyou see gallant Fort Sumter. To its left, Sullivan’s Island,on which is Fort Moultrie of Revolutionary fame; to itsright, by the Quarantine Station, Charles Town’s first fort,Johnson, named for a Proprietary Governor. On the westside are some of Charleston’s most desirable residences. Youreach South Battery.
Here you see the monument to the brave Confederate defendersof Fort Sumter, to face that famous fortress. Continueon the promenade which has inspired extravagantphrases. In the park you see the capstan from the battleshipMaine, blown up in Havana harbor in February, 1898;7monuments to the defenders of Fort Moultrie in 1776, andto William Gilmore Simms, novelist, historian, editor. Acrossthe park, at the foot of Church Street, you see the home ofColonel William Washington, Virginian, who achieved alustrous record as a Revolutionary officer in South Carolina;across Church Street is the Villa Margharita, built as thehome of Andrew Simonds, banker. At the foot of MeetingStreet, you see a memorial fountain to the gallant Confederatesof the first submarine.
Stay on the promenade and enjoy the sight of statelypalmettos bordering a beautiful park in which majestic oaksare many. At the foot of King Street, you come to the FortSumter Hotel.