We are very pleased to present our second guest blogger, sister and sister in law, Linda Feldman.
Hi Y’all! After getting off to a slightly delayed start (someday ask Bob about Macon), we all met up in Charleston, which is having its first 80 degree week of the year. Robin found a great place for us to stay; 1 ½ Ann Street. For those of you who know Charleston, we’re a half block east of Meeting Street and a couple of blocks north of Calhoun.
Our little house is a mini version of the Charleston single houses that you see around the city. A single house has its narrow side (one room wide) facing the street, with the front door on what we would consider the side of the house.
Many of the buildings have two and three-story piazzas added. The piazzas always appear on the side of the house with the front door in order to take best advantage of local breezes. Kira, our very nice and helpful hostess who owns this property, lives in a large single house with her husband and adorable baby daughter. She renovated the old carriage house in her garden and here we are.
Kudos to Bob and Robin for bringing their home with them wherever they go. They are incredibly organized, and before I knew it we were set up in a Feldman home. How many Bob and Robin staples can you identify?
Charleston is built on a peninsula surrounded by tidal salt rivers; the Cooper River on the east and the Ashley River on the west. They meet at the tip of the peninsula to form Charleston Bay and beyond that is the Atlantic Ocean. Wednesday morning we walked east to the Cooper River waterfront and took a 90 minute Sandlapper boat tour.
We started to see dolphins playing even before we reached the bay. From the water we also saw Fort Sumter, Fort Moultrie, the Morris Island and Sullivan’s Island lighthouses, the USS Yorktown and the Arthur Ravenel Bridge. More about the bridge later.
It was amazing how closely we were able to view the beautiful mansions along Charleston’s Battery, where in 1861 General Beauregard ordered the first shot fired in the Civil War. (For those of you who have read Gone with the Wind, Melanie Wilkes named her son after General Beauregard). We also heard tales of pirates (Blackbeard and Stede Bonnet sailed these waters) and shipwrecks and plantation days.
After the tour we went to Market Street and made our way through the original Charleston City Market built in 1807.
After a quick lunch we took a carriage ride and saw many churches and the fabulous homes South of Broad, Charleston’s most storied neighborhood and the most exclusive area downtown and possibly the entire state. My favorite church was St. Michaels Episcopal at the intersection of Meeting and Broad. Built in 1752, Charlestonians who live in the area grow up to the sound of St. Michael’s bells chiming the hours. The bells have crossed the pond seven times. In 1764 they were sent to Charleston from Whitechapel Foundry in London. When the British occupied Charleston during the Revolutionary War they hauled them back as a war prize, but had to return them after the war. The bells were damaged during the Civil War and sent back to Whitechapel where they were recast and sent back. In 1989 the bells were damaged by Hurricane Hugo and sent back to the same foundry. They were returned to Charleston in 1993.
South of Broad is an amazing and beautiful neighborhood. Rows of palatial antebellum mansions, built by wealthy planters and the merchant elite in the 18th and 19th centuries, line the streets. There are also many gorgeous single homes on the quaint wandering streets. It’s a quiet neighborhood and the residents are extremely private. Nevertheless, the district is very popular for tourists and horse drawn carriages and it’s well worth a peek into the private gardens. In fact, after the carriage tour we walked back to the neighborhood for a closer look.
While there we toured theNathaniel Russell House built in 1809. He was a Charleston slave trader who lived in the house during the early 19th century with his family and 18 slaves.
The house is widely recognized as one of America’s most important Neoclassical houses and has a front rectangular room, a center oval room, and a square room in the rear. Other rooms include the turquoise-color First-Floor Oval Dining Room; the Second-Floor Drawing Room where the women of the house retired to after dinner; and the Withdrawing Room where men enjoyed their cigars and brandy. The house has an elliptical spiral staircase which ascends three floors. Iron balconies surround the house, and it also has a large adjoining garden. Although it felt odd to admire beauty from such ill-gotten gains, the 24 carat gold painted crown molding was spectacular.
By this time I was done walking (Robin’s Fitbit had her over 20,000 steps). Bob and Robin set out in search of Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim Synagogue, the country’s second oldest synagogue and the oldest in continuous use. It started as an orthodox congregation and became the first reform synagogue in the country. I took the free trolley home. Guess who got there first!
On Thursday the humidity rolled in – if felt like a Chicago summer! After a leisurely morning (for me – Bob ran and Robin walked), we took the Range Rover to run some errands and then got away from the humidity by driving to nearby Mount Pleasant to see Boone Hall Plantation. It was founded in 1681 on the banks of the Wampacheone Creek. Approaching the big house on the avenue of 93 live oaks felt like visiting Twelve Oaks. The beautiful Colonial Revival plantation house was built in 1933–35 and replaces the lost original house. There is also a row of 9 slave cabins that were built in the18th century and are maintained in authentic condition. At its height, Boone Hall had 4000 acres and 300 slaves living in approximately 27 cabins.
Boone Hall is one of America’s oldest still working plantations; it has continually grown crops for over 320 years. The business of the plantation was originally indigo, lumber, brick and cattle. After the civil war they planted pecan trees. Today they plant strawberries, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, watermelons, and pumpkins. In addition to the big house and slave quarters, we saw the gardens, the dock house, and parts of the working plantation.
We had dinner at Bowen Island Restaurant, an authentic South Carolina experience. Sue Rittenberg passed along the recommendation from her son in law, Nick. Robin had Frogmore Stew, a low country dish that has no frogs and isn’t a stew.
Thanks Sue and Nick for another great recommendation – we wouldn’t have missed it! Dinner was followed by a quick drive south of broad to see rainbow row; seven houses in a row that each are painted a different color.
On to grocery shopping at our neighborhood Harris Teeter and home for the evening. Thanks Bob and Robin for sharing your Charleston adventures with me. I’m having a great time and looking forward to more to come!