The rich history of Charleston lives on today in some of its buildings, such as the Old Exchange and the Vendue. Read on to discover the fascinating history of these historic sites.
The Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon
During the 1700s, Charleston’s wealth grew as the shipping trade took off. As with anywhere that has a booming trade industry, the city needed somewhere to manage the trade, and the Royal Exchange and Custom House was built. The Exchange had a dual purpose: a business house / Post Office and a prison for pirates. It was also a meeting place for ratifying the Constitution. The Old Exchange is still owned by the Daughters of the American Revolution and offers public tours.
Boone Hall Plantation and Gardens
From the website: Boone Hall Plantation was founded in 1681 when Englishman Major John Boone came to Charleston and established a lucrative plantation and gracious home on the banks of Wampacheone Creek. The family and descendants of Major Boone were influential in the history of South Carolina, the colonies and the nation.
The McRae Family purchased the plantation in 1955, and it was Mrs. McRae who furnished the house with antiques and began giving tours. Today, the McRae Family still owns the property, and they continue to make improvements to the plantation so that visitors can experience what plantation life was like.
The Vendue Hotel
Located in Charleston’s French Quarter, the Vendue was originally a warehouse used by French merchants engaged in the shipping trade, with all the interesting and sometimes out-of-bounds activity that entails. Sailors who needed a place to stay asked the owners of the warehouse to help them, and the first rooms were added to the warehouse.
During the Civil War, the original building was badly damaged and later rebuilt as a two-story brick building. Many well-known people, including the first female newspaper editor, Elizabeth Timothy, have stayed at the Vendue.
Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie
From the website: Fort Sumter National Monument incorporates several sites around Charleston Harbor, which tell the unique stories of the people and places that shaped the United States of America.
Confederate forces fired the first shots of the Civil War upon Federal troops at Fort Sumter at 4:30 a.m. on April 12, 1861. The roots of that conflict are buried deep within the stories of the development of the United States. Fort Sumter would continue to serve as the focal point in Charleston throughout the Civil War.
Sullivan’s Island has long served as Charleston Harbor’s first line of defense against disease or foreign invasion. Quarantine stations checked every person that came into the harbor, including enslaved Africans. Later a palmetto log fort was built by Colonel Moultrie and the Second South Carolina Infantry. This fort came to be known as Fort Moultrie, and was replaced and modified as technology and warfare changed through the mid-twentieth century.
The Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center at Liberty Square sits on the site of Gadsden’s Wharf, where hundreds of thousands of enslaved Africans were brought into the United States. Today the site interprets the causes and catalysts of the Civil War and the results of that war on the nation.
What is your favorite Charleston building and why? Tell us below.