On Friday, after spending Thursday afternoon and night shopping and eating, my mom and I decided we wanted to do some historic sight-seeing, so I busted out our map (hello, tourist) and…promptly led us away from where we were planning on going. We walked quite a long way in the opposite direction, but it was a happy accident because we ended up being able to look at all the amazingly beautiful homes on Meeting Street and ultimately wound up at the Battery. It was really cold–at least for us Floridians–and the wind was whipping off the water, but the sun was shining and dogs were playing in the park and it was just so cool to stand and look at buildings and trees that had been there for hundreds of years.
While we were in that area, we took a tour of Calhoun Mansion, which is…well, I’ll let its website do the talking, but it was amazing. Thirty-five rooms, 35 fireplaces, a 90-foot cuppola, the most incredible woodwork I’ve ever seen and, oh, 24,000 square feet housing the most eclectic collection of…stuff…I’ve ever seen–we’re talking Egyptian furniture, taxidermy, silver, Persian rugs, Tiffany lamps, etc. It’s a private residence, too, so someone lives there most of the year. Totally cool and over-the-top–I mean, you just have to shake your head and laugh at the ostentatiousness of it all–and the landscaping is equally gorgeous. Plus, the history of the house was interesting.
After our stop at Calhoun Mansion, we walked back up Meeting Street to the Charleston Museum and Joseph Maginault House, and then over to Chalmers Street (above–cobblestones!) to see the Old Slave Mart museum. The Charleston Museum is great and gives a great history of the city, especially its role in the Revolutionary and Civil wars, and the Maginault House is amazingly well-preserved, but you cannot miss the Old Slave Mart. It’s possibly the only known building used as a slave auction gallery still in existence, and it’s incredibly moving to stand within its walls.
You know, it’s a really neat feeling–especially when you’re used to standing in buildings that were built in 1980 (oh, Florida)–to stand in those that were actually constructed in, like, the 1780s. I’m an inherently nostalgic person, too, so it was really affecting.
Honestly, I could have spent the entire two days (and then some) walking through historic sites and gazing at stately old houses and peeping through gates and standing by the water letting the wind tousle my hair (and then going out for amazing meals afterwards). Charleston, I never thought anything would usurp Savannah as my favorite Southern city, but you’ve managed to do it–and you’ve managed to make me want to live there some day, too.
Photos: My own