Sunday, October 28, 2012


We did not venture far from Freedom yesterday as Sandy stirred up some high winds and heavy rains, so I was happy we spent the preceding days getting out  and immersing ourselves in the history of  Charleston. Tuesday morning we took our new folding bikes for their inaugural spin along the waterfront and through the Battery to White Point Gardens. It was a great way to get used to our bikes, enjoy some exercise and explore a charming neighborhood.

On Wednesday morning we took the ferry to Ft. Sumter -- a short 30 minute ride across the harbor. Before boarding the ferry we spent some time exploring the garden at Liberty Square and the terrific indoor display about Charleston's political, business and social environments before the war, and the role of Ft.Sumter and Ft. Moultrie in the war.

The garden was dotted with reflections on freedom such as these:

If you recall, the Capn's family has deep roots here in the low country, and we found at lease one ancestor at Liberty Place:

Then it was on to the Fort -- where the first shot of the War of Northern Aggression exploded on April 12, 1861
This cannon had a direct line of site to Charleston.

At the time of the war these walls were 50 ft. high. Now they are only 25 ft. The fort was built on a sandbar, but has withstood war, shifting currents, and the test of time

On Thursday evening we participated in the Preservation Society of Charleston's tour of  Church Street homes, one of the original streets in the Grand Modell, the earliest plan of the city made in 1672. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful streets in America.  And once again,we found some family ties:

This Georgian style home was the most beautiful stop on the tour , filled with antique furnishings, wallpaper hand painted in Taiwan, and a 13th century tapestry. Ninety percent of its original woodwork remains -- allowing us to climb the same mahogany staircase that the Capn's family (this time the Elliott's) climbed over two centuries ago. 

The tour also featured the home of Frank Abignale, portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in Catch Me If You Can. It has been beautifully restored into a comfortable family home mixing old finishes with modern conveniences -- but we loved seeing the movie screen play casually displayed on the coffee table, he celebrity photos and the large framed Pan Am poster.

Friday evening found us at the Historic Charleston Foundation's Tour de Graves, in Magnolia Cemetery, resting place of many notable Charlestonians and you guessed it, more ancestors. We saw a few of their graves, but that was not the focus of our visit. Instead, the docents stationed throughout the former park directed our attention to: 

The Soldier's Ground:

Little Annie's Memorial:

The graves to her left were those of her siblings. We saw another family plot where 5 of 7 children were buried, with one memorial featuring the death mask of the deceased infant.

A Monument Designed by Louis C. Tiffany:

Several Mausoleums - some ornate, some simple - but all, like this one, containing only dust..... (I know because I borrowed the Capn's flashlight, entered the first gate and took a look through the second)

And an 1100 year old Live Oak:

As the sun set over Magnolia Cemetery, we headed out to dinner. All in all it was a busy and interesting week. In light of the impending storm we canceled our weekend plans to visit a few nearby plantations, but there is always next week.  

1 comment:

  1. How exciting to find family history in your explorations, and not just in cemeteries!

    I've not been to Charleston, but your photos and stories are now making me curious about the place.