Since it was dark when we got into Charleston last night, we were looking forward to this morning when we could get our bearings and take a look around. We left our hotel and headed to historic downtown Charleston and the first order of business was coffee.
We found this great spot and were lucky to get a seat by the front window. The coffee was very good and the inside was as charming as the front. As you can see, we had very nice weather, sun with scattered clouds and about 70 so we left the coats in the car.
After coffee, we walked around the downtown area. It is quite tony with stores such as Gucci and Louis Vuitton but also has several local clothing stores and more than a few very fine antique stores.
We stopped in here and they had a large and high quality selection of items ranging from furniture to brass fireplace bumpers to fine china and small jewelry and collectibles. The furniture was particularly stunning, many pieces in the 1850 range that were in fantastic condition.
We stopped and saw the Slave Mart Museum, which was quite sad. It is located in the actual building that was one of the last slave markets in the city, operating into the late 19th century. The museum is small, just the two floors, but filled with information about slave traders, slave buyers and the slaves themselves. I found the recorded memories of former slaves to be the most poignant, it seemed unthinkable that people had been sold as slaves recently enough to survive to an age where recordings of their reminiscences could be made. This is a sad but necessary reminder of Charleston’s history, South Carolina being a state with one of the highest populations of slaves in the south.
We left the museum and walked towards the bay and a famous string of Georgian houses called “Rainbow Row”.
These houses had fallen into almost slum-like conditions after the Civil War, but had been slowly purchased by historic preservationists over time and had all been restored by the mid-1940’s. There are several stories about the color of the homes, one is that the sailors coming into port would get drunk and the colors helped them remember where they were staying, another was that the homes contained storefronts and the colors helped the owners of illiterate slaves who did the shopping communicate to them which businesses to use.
Down the street from these houses is a promenade along the water with very grand homes across the way and at the end of the point a beautiful park.
I was glad we had made it to Charleston, I was in Savannah a few years ago and had hoped to see it then but didn’t have the time.
We drove on into Gainesville, the last 45 minutes or so in a driving rain. Happy to be here with Kayla and Ann and looking forward to doing laundry and staying out of the car for a day or two at least.
I will post if we do anything interesting here (there will likely be something) but we won’t leave here for the return portion of the trip until next Monday morning.