South Carolina was granted to eight Lords Proprietors by King Charles II. Charles Towne, South Carolina was founded in 1670 and subsequently moved to it's present location in 1680. Bordered by two rivers, the Ashley and Cooper rivers, they were named after the first Earl of Shaftesbury, Lord Anthony Ashley Cooper.
Commonly called the Holy City, Charles Towne, South Carolina is home to many different religions. The French were a group of French Protestants who settled here and by the late 17th century the Anglicans, Baptist, Presbyterians, and Quakers had settled in Charles Towne. In fact, the oldest church building in Charleston is St. Michael's Episcopal Church, circa 1751.
There were only three walled cities in North America; Quebec City, Canada, St. Augustine, Florida, and Charles Towne, South Carolina.
The oldest house in Charleston today is the Colonel William Rhett house at 54 Hasell. Colonel Rhett is perhaps best known for his capture of the infamous Major Stede Bonnet, the so-called "gentleman pirate". While the oldest public building in the city is the Powder Magazine located at 79 Cumberland Street, circa 1713.
Charles Towne has been very popular with many influential statesmen. Four signers of the Declaration of Independence were from Charles Towne; Thomas Heyward Jr, Edward Rutledge, Thomas Lynch Jr., and Arthur Middleton. In addition, four signers of the United States Constitution were from Charles Towne; John Rutledge, Charles Cotesworth Pickney, Pierce Butler, and Charles Pickney. President Washington visited Charles Towne in 1791 and stayed in the house known today known as the Heyward-Washington house, located at 87 Church Street.
Here is a very interesting story about how Charleston acquired the Palmetto Tree as it's state tree. General Moultrie was in charge of building a fort on Sullivans Island, the General was a bit of a procrastinator, when the Revolutionary War started the fort was incomplete. In an attempt to build something General Moultrie used Palmetto logs for the outside walls, of course everyone knows how soft the logs are! The war started first at the fort on Sullivans Island, much to everyone's surprise the cannonballs were bouncing off the walls and not destroying them, General Moultrie is now a hero, South Carolina has a state tree, and every year Carolina Day is celebrated in his honor.
It was Confederate troops that fired upon Federal troops in Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861. The fort sits alone in the mouth of the harbor where the Ashley and Cooper Rivers meet and locals say is the start of the Atlantic Ocean.
Charles Towne is home to five significant first; First Municipal College, First Chamber of Commerce, First Musuem of Natural History, First fire proof building, and the First Insurance Company.
The motto of the city is "ADES MORES JURAQUE CURAT" which means "she guards her buildings, customs, and laws".
There are six homes open to the public, the Heyward-Washington House, Edmondston-Alston House, Nathaniel Russell House, Joseph-Manigault House, Aiken-Rhett House, and the Calhoun Mansion.
At the intersection of Meeting and Broad Streets is one of the most interesting intersections in the United States, it is called the "Four Corners of Law". Located at this intersection on each corner is City Hall (City law), County Courthouse (County law), US Post Office (State law), and St. Michael's Episcopal Church (God's Law).
Incidentally, the bells located in the steeple of St. Michael's Episcopal Church have crossed the Atlantic 7 times; 1) Imported from England, 2) after the Revolution, the British took the bells as spoils of war, 3) later returned, 4) during the Civil War, the bells were sent to Columbia, South Carolina for safekeeping, but destroyed when the city was burned. The metal fragments were sent back to England, 5) they were recast and sent back to Charleston, 6) after Hurricane Hugo in 1989, the damaged bells were sent back to England for repairs, 7) then returned.
Another very interesting piece of 18th century property is located on East Bay Street between 79 and 107, these buildings were built by merchants for both business and residential use. These buildings were painted in beautiful pastel colors to help fight the Carolina heat, today this section of East Bay Street in commonly known as "Rainbow Row".
As you walk down East Bay Street towards White Point Gardens, also known as "The Battery" is a gorgeous vantage point to view Fort Sumter, Sullivans Island, Morris Island Lighthouse, Sullivan's Island Lighthouse, Patriots Point, and the USS Yorktown (home to the Medal of Honor Museum). The Battery is famous for at least two special events; the hanging of pirate Stede Bonnet and an absolutely wonderful place for weddings is at the gazabo.
Speaking of Fort Sumter, it was named for Thomas Sumter a Revolutionary hero. The first shot of the Civil War was fired by Edwin Ruffin from Fort Johnson to Fort Sumter, Anber Doubleday fired the first shot for the North. The subsequent Federal siege of Charleston was the longest in modern warfare, from April 1863 to February 17, 1865, 501 days.
While walking through the downtown area you will notice many graveyards and cemetaries, we also have a beautiful Gateway Walk/Garden Club Walk. Start in St. Phillip's Church west's churchyard, then head towards the Circular Church to the Gibbs Art Gallery to Charleston Library Society (on King Street) onto the Unitarian Churchyard.
You may also notice the vast amounts of pineapples and acorns, oak leafs, and open arms staircases. Pineapples are the universal symbol of hospitality, the acorn and oak leaf are the symbol of southern hospitality, and the open arms staircases are also a symbol of welcome in the South.