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Trip to Charleston, South Carolina
October 26-29, 2021

by Jenny and Charlie Plesums


Charleston has been on our list of interesting cities that neither of us have seen. With international travel too much hassle this year, we are making domestic trips.

Getting there October 26

Travel was easy - Leave Austin mid day, change in Dallas then direct to Charleston arriving early evening. We picked up a car, went to the hotel, and out to dinner.

Wednesday October 27

We started with a boat and bus tour... lots of houses and stories about the city, then a harbor tour - Fort Sumter in the distance, but if you go, forget the harbor tour part.

Lots of beautiful houses with massive porches, oriented to get the prevailing breeze. Remember, no air conditioning when most of these were built.

Many of the houses had the porches on the side for the breeze.
Traditionally the large plantations out in the countryside were the "business" property. The owners then had in-town houses where most of their entertaining took place. I suspect the link between the plantation and the party home in the city has dissipated over the years.

Many or most of the weekend party houses were relatively small, not the grand houses above.

I don't know if there is significance to black shutters on the second floor and white shutters on the first floor, but it is still a pretty house

Notice what appear to be medallions between the upper and lower windows. They are the ends of steel braces that keep the walls from bulging out. Sometimes they are decorative, such as these stars, and other times painted to match the walls.

On these colorful houses, the medallions are painted black, and may have a fancy design.

Neighborhoods were often painted in a rainbow of colors - each house different that the neighbor's. The blue house tried to minimize the medallions with matching blue paint.

Charleston is very proud of it's religious tolerance. This is an Orthodox Jewish Synagogue - reputedly the oldest continuous operating facility in the country.

Coexisting nearby is a Christian facility

The bus tour with a very knowledgeable driver/guide described perhaps 50 houses as we drove around (I have too many pictures), then dropped us at the docks for the harbor tour.

Charleston is surrounded by water with many islands and waterways. Therefore it seems that at least half of the time you are driving you are on a bridge.. This is one we used often... tall enough that ocean-going ships can pass udnerneath.

Not only does the bridge have to withstand hurricanes that often hit here, but it must withstand ships that have lost control and been blown/drifted into the supports. Thus the supports are massive.

BMW, Volvo, and Mercedes (Sprinter) all make specific models in this area, and many are shipped to Europe. The docks accumulate trainloads of cars waiting to be shipped, or inbound waiting for distribution. This is a small fraction of the storage yards.

On April 12, 1861 the confederacy fired on Fort Sumter, marking the start of the Civil War. It is on an island in Charleston harbor, and was built to defend Charleston from Sea Attack in 1812,

There were several dredging operations to keep the shipping lanes clear.

After the tour we wandered on our own. I got a kick of the cafe "Slightly North of Broad (Street)" Notice their initials on the awning and planters

Thursday October 28

Some of the streets had overhanging trees, with moss hanging from them.

What happens if your fine wood columns get moisture in them, and rot at the bottom? Getting the upstairs porch level and properly supported until new columns can be installed is a big job!

We toured the Aiken-Rhett House Museum. Old buildings are either preserved or restored to be as they were at some point in their past lives. This House and supporting buildings were preserved, not restored, doing only what is required to preserve the structure such as painting the outside. Some of the rooms had peeling 150 year old wallpaper. Personally I like restored buildings.

Someone (probably a kid) sits at each end of this board and rocks back and forth, which causes the other end to rock as well. This is the largest of several examples we could see on other porches.

Adjacent houses didn't touch but there was certainly no room between them. Think how a fire would spread!

The one restored room in the main house showed the art collected during the European trip of the owners.

Yes Jenny enjoyed the artwork.

Behind the house were slave quarters (small rooms with few if any windows for light and ventilation, and often dirt floors). There was also a kitchen building (to keep heat and smells out of the main house), carriage garage, stable, etc. An 1846 Deed listed 19 slaves by name as part of the property. 1874 census data showed 15 "slaves" in residence.

The Powder Magazine from 1713 has been preserved.

Note the stocks for punishment. I don't believe the chair is original... much too comfortable

We walked through the block long city market. Unfortunately rather than seeing local craftspeople, we mostly saw merchants unpacking foreign imports.

The architecture of this building is so unique I couldn't help taking the picture. Google says it was built in 1853 as Farmers' and Exchange Bank but is now just an office building.

Jenny cannot resist any ocean... she even went walking in the rain.

Charleston is not immune to horse drawn carriages. I like the reflectors on the horse's front legs.

The land comes to a point facing the bay. Around the point are some of the canons and mortars used to protect Charleston from attack from the sea.

The Angel Oak Tree on Johns Island ranks among the oldest trees in the world, and the oldest oak east of the Mississippi. It was on the estate of Mr. and Mrs. Angel before it was procured by the City of Charleston and made a park.

It stands 65 feet tall and it's trunk is 28 feet in circumference. The longest branch of the tree is 187 feet. It covers (shades) 17,000 square feet or almost 0.4 acres.

Yes, I was there.

Return to Austin October 29

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