Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Over the Smokies and Through the Woods...to Mallory's House We Go

Last Wednesday at 11:30p.m. (after too much Downtown Santa Lighting festivities for me) Guy picked me up and we headed South for Thanksgiving. Our destination? His sister Mallory's house. Thank God he had taken a nap...I barely made it home in time to finish packing (but DID stay awake the whole time, pretty much).

Now I have always been a very firm believer in needing Seasons, which to me means green Spring, hot Summer, Fall leaves, and snow in Winter. I, therefore, was not prepared to love Charleston as much as I did. I mean, Thanksgiving and palm (I'm sorry...I mean palmetto) trees? Come on! Christmas trees down the street from an orange tree covered in fruit? Crazy! However, it's a kind of crazy that has sort of started to sink into a tiny corner of my mind...

This post is Part One, and is full of houses and history, so if these things bore you...well, try to read it anyway. You might learn something.

The first leg of the trip was dark. And then when the sun broke, we were in the Smokies, so it stayed pretty, well, dark
Through Kentucky and Tennessee, into North Carolina, and, at last, South Carolina. It started to look warm outside. I started to watch for gators.
A very happy sight...
...followed by another. Cranberry Moonshine! I was beginning to like the South.
Thanksgiving dinner was wonderful. Crowded around the table, catching up, and laughing at the Baby. After dinner we sat around and sucked on pens before turning in after a long drive. (Although Mallory and I had alternative plans, and met up after everyone was asleep for a nightcap and some Atlanta Housewives)
The next day we headed into Downtown Charleston and bustling King Street. I was really surprised at how "Big City" Charleston felt. There were tons of boutiques and specialty shops, antique shops galore, as well as very high end (Gucci, Louis Vuitton, etc) and modern (the Apple Store) stops along the old brick street. Plus tons of wine bars, cafes, bar bars, markets, and bakeries.
A very touristy stop is the old City Market, sometimes misleadingly called the Old Slave Market. This refers to the fact that slaves were the ones who bought and sold at the open air market, and not that slaves were bought or sold here.
Some Holiday decor-palmettos and a pine tree.

A typical Charleston single house. The early residents were afraid of a "frontage tax", and therefore built their houses sideways, one room wide, to reduce the tax. This was a happy accident, as the houses being situated this way created perfect cross ventilation in the hot and humid climate.
Uncle Junior and the Baby. She was the most well behaved baby ever to take a carriage tour in the long history of Charleston.
The Middleton-Pinckney house is a rather impressive mansion built around 1796 in the Neoclassical style.

Crockett and Tubbs...our Charleston Mules
Charleston has a 75 Year Rule, where nothing, once it reaches 75 years old, can be removed by anything but an act of God. These old live oaks are growing right through the curb.
Stripped bark and, if you look close, bits of metal from the UPS and FedEx trucks that have hit the tree. Charleston has survived War, Hurricanes, and the Great Charleston Earthquake of 1886, which some say would have been between a 7.3 and an 8 on the Richter Scale (had there been a Richter Scale in 1886).
Entrance to the College of Charleston. The 13th oldest college in the United States, founded in 1770.
A glimpse of Randolph Hall.
A typical Charleston "front" door. Many doors actually open onto the piazza (please, don't say porch) and then leads to the actual front door.

18 Bull Street. The William Blacklock House (pronounced Blaylock). This house contains one of the best Adam style interiors in the United States.

A rather Caribbean style house.

New Orleans?

Intricate wrought iron abounds in Charleston...but I believe these gates are cast iron (which was popular because of the fine details the artist was able to create as tastes turned a bit more Victorian).

56 Bull Street is known as the Denmark Vesey House. In 1799 Vesey, a slave from the Caribbean, won $1,500 in the City Lottery and bought his freedom, but was unable to buy the freedom of his wife or children. This lead to his planning of a large rebellion where thousands of slaves in the city would rebel and emancipate the city long enough to escape to Haiti (The Haitian Revolution having begun in 1791). The story goes that one slave reported to his master's wife, and the rebellion was crushed and Vesey executed. A permanent municipal guard was created to keep down the threat of another rebellion, and was stationed at what would become The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina.

The picture of an antebellum house.

An interesting doorway and gates. Very Mediterranean.

Another typical Charleston street scape.
One thing I had read about earlier were the "earthquake bolts". These bolts were put through houses, connecting one exterior wall to another, and tightened ever so slowly over time to increase stability of the damaged houses. However, this was not an exact science, and experts now say that many of them are two tight and, should another earthquake occur, could actually do more damage than good. As experts also say a quake of that magnitude only happens every 500 years, they should be alright for another 375 years.

The WentworthWentworth Mansion, rather than the Rogers Mansion, but oh well.

A closer look at the detail of the mansard roof.
I loved this "snow" on the shrubbery.

Stucco chipping away.

The Powder Magazine, built in 1713, is the oldest public building in the Southeast.

Church Street bends around the portico of St Philips Church, the steeple of which (along with St Michael's) dominates the skyline, as there is a limit to the height of buildings in Charleston. The tour guide said the steeple has leaned (in this picture, to the left) ever since the earthquake, but I haven't found anything in any histories about that, although St Michael's steeple sank 8 inches.

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