Charleston, South Carolina, is one of the oldest cities in the United States. Established in 1670, Charleston predated Georgia by almost two decades and helped set the stage for much of what would become America’s early history. It was also where many English settlers first arrived on these shores; consequently, Charleston’s architecture and culture have been influenced heavily by this heritage (considered some of America’s most beautiful). In this article, we’ll explore the evolution of Charleston over time and get a glimpse into its unique architectural past.
When Was Charleston, South Carolina Founded
In 1670, the first settlers arrived in Charles Towne. In 1680, Charleston was established as a city named after Charles II of England. It was also known as Charles Towne until 1783, when it became officially known as Charleston.
First Capital Charles Towne
The first capital city was Charles Towne, located on the west bank of the Ashley River, chosen for its strategic importance in defending against Spaniards in Florida. The city was founded by English colonists in 1670 and named after King Charles II of England. While it was initially intended as a fortification to protect against Spanish incursion, its location also made it an ideal place to set up shop and begin trading with other settlers and traders.
Charles Towne, now spelled Charleston
The city’s history goes back to the early 17th century when English settlers established Charles Towne as the first permanent English settlement on mainland North America. The town was officially founded in 1670 and named after King Charles II following his restoration to the throne. Georgia, established later in 1733, was named after King George II; however, it is commonly referred to for its namesake founder James Oglethorpe rather than its namesake king.
It would take almost two decades for Georgia to get started due to conflicts with Spain over control of Florida and other territories west of South Carolina. Still today, Charleston remains the capital city of South Carolina, although Atlanta has grown into a major population center with more people than any other city except New York City or Los Angeles (in terms of metropolitan areas).
Charleston’s French Huguenot refugees
In 1685, King Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes, which guaranteed religious freedom for French Protestants. This action forced thousands of Huguenots to flee France and seek refuge elsewhere. Many settled in England and America, where they found acceptance among other Protestant communities.
The Huguenots who came to Charleston brought several skills with them; many were artisans who helped shape the city’s culture and architecture. They also contributed their names (some still in use), such as Tradd Street, Pinckney Street, and Legare Street (from Le Gere).
Charleston is known for English-inspired Architecture.
Charleston is known for its English-inspired gentry architecture, which began to appear around 1680. The city’s most famous landmark, the Charleston Battery, was built in 1732 and symbolized resilience. The oldest house in Charleston is White Point Gardens, which dates back to 1680 and still stands today.
Old Exchange Charleston South Carolina
The Old Exchange is an old building in the heart of downtown Charleston, South Carolina. The Old Exchange was built around 1767. It was a hub of public space for Colonial Charleston. The Old Exchange served as a meeting place for everything from merchants to pirates, from politicians to revolutionaries. It served as a federal government building in the early 19th century and later became a Charleston post office and customs house. Later it became the seat of the Confederate government of South Carolina. Many important historical figures spent time at the Old Exchange including Theodore Roosevelt, George Washington, Hamilton Burr, and Andrew Jackson
Takeaway: Stop by today to learn more about this incredible piece of American history when you visit Charleston!
Provost Dungeon Charleston, South Carolina
Provost Dungeon is a nonprofit organization created to offer a creative and social space in Charleston, South Carolina for emerging artists. They provide introductory classes in a wide range of arts and sciences, run a rental studio space, offer support and counseling for artists, and promote the arts in Charleston. Provost Dungeon initiates its program by preparing participants to create art outside their comfort zone. They do this by allowing students to create work in unstructured environments such as caves and abandoned buildings.
Hampton Plantation, located in James City County, Virginia, is a historic site that preserves the former colonial-era plantation of the same name. The main historic feature at the state park is the Hampton Plantation House and its associated gardens; other original buildings include a slave quarter and smokehouse. The grounds are open for tours every day with guided tours of the house itself offered on weekends. The house itself is a classic example of Georgian architecture from around 1740 AD. The land to which Hampton was originally built was granted to James Hibben who built his first home here by 1735; this dwelling would be used as an ordinary farmhouse by successive generations of owners until it became derelict soon after being purchased by John Dandridge III in the 1760s
Charleston is one of my favorite places to visit. If you’re ever in town, check out some historical sites like the Old Exchange, Provost Dungeon, or Hampton Plantation. You can also take a walking tour around downtown Charleston and learn about its history from the experts who live here!