This week I had the opportunity to travel to Charleston, South Carolina. What a quaint and beautiful place to visit with all its nuance, history, and flavor. Having only four days I needed to take in as much as I possibly could and let me tell you, four days was truly not near enough time!
With a spring snowstorm just 2 days prior in Minnesota dropping 11 1/2 inches of snow on us -Craig and I were more than happy to leave on a short business trip. From the minute we were picked up at the airport we were greeted with such sweet people who couldn’t wait to tell us about the rich history in Charleston. Every trip something hilarious comes about and this trip was no exception. Lesson learned, make sure at least one of you knows the name of the hotel you checked into before dinner and drinks on a rainy night! Also, do not let your kids find out because this is one of those things that they for sure will never let you forget.
The first morning I was able to attend a cooking class at the “Charleston cooks maverick kitchen store” I was a happy girl!!! Smoked pork chops with Chutney, hoppin’ John & chess pie! Southern cooking taught by a very wonderful chef Donna and her sweet assistant Haley.
Afterwards we were off to the historic Charleston City Market. An incredible tourist destination where your surrounded by artisans, trolleys and horse drawn carriages- it made for a wonderful day of shopping.
The next day I was off on a historic city tour. Our guide was a one of a kind southern belle with a drawl so thick I could have listened to her forever! She actually made learning Charleston’s history so much fun! I wish that would have been the case back when I was in school….
Our first stop was at the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon- standing on the steps that George Washing stood was pretty cool. The most amazing part to me was the ceilings in the dungeon. They told me that it was constructed by stacking sand bags, laying the brick on top then using the mortar to set- absolutely incredible. I can’t imagine what all took place in the dungeon- pirates, gun powder, tea, jail cells… oh my!
WE even found a photo of the original Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel we were staying in. Gen. Robert E. Lee was a guest at the hotel in 1861 and watched the great fire of that year from the balcony until the proximity of the fire forced him to leave the hotel. The staff of the hotel saved it by hanging wet blankets out the windows, so that the building was blackened but not destroyed. Gen. Pierre G.T. Beauregard, the confederate commander, used the hotel as his headquarters until Mills invited him to use his own residence in Meeting Street. A later guest was Theodore Roosevelt. ln 1968 the old hotel was torn down and the present building was erected, in the same ltalianate style as the original. ln the reconstruction, the old ironwork was retained and the terra cotta was copied in fiberglass. The building is two stories higher.
Our next stop was at the Edmondston- Alston House. Unfortunately no cameras were allowed… this was a house in mourning. One of the sons had died 150 years ago -Lieutenant John Julius Pringle Alston. The guides more a black bow, the front of the house had fabric draped across and every mirror was covered in sheer black fabric- superstition dictated that the next person to see his reflection would die. On the first floor right next to the grand staircase was a holding area for the extra leaves for the formal dining room table. All entertaining was done on the second floor because of dust and smells from the then dirt road and animals that every home had (horses, chickens and cows) the table was carried up for parties and the extra leaves would extend the table to seat 24. I was able to take pictures up on the second level from the “piazza” it faced the famous Charleston harbor where at one time up to 300 ships would be waiting to come in for trade along with pirates like Blue Beard. Hard to believe that this house was originally built by a 17 year old immigrant – it took him 5 years.
Magnolia, wisteria, roses and other highly perfumed flowers were planted close to the houses to mask the oder as well. It was incredible to smell!
This area along the house was of interest to me- first it was beautiful, but where it led was interesting. A law was passed that all kitchens were to be in a separate building behind the house because of fire. Also, the carriage house was next to it where the animals stayed and the slaves slept above. This one was converted into a B&B.
Next we were off to Patriots Point to have lunch on the USS Yorktown (CV-10). It was so awesome to walk on a navel ship and see what it was like for my brother Ron many years ago.
Destoyer USS Laffey (DD-724) was next to the USS Yorktown.
After my tour Craig and I took a walk around Charleston. I wanted to capture some pictures of the unbelievable architecture.
And a couple things I learned today-
That is fancy door is on the front of the majority of the houses, its referred to as the “fake door “ it goes to the porch- only.
And that most of the buildings have bolts in them in an effort to hold them together and strengthen them after an earthquake and a hurricane.
And my favorite story of all! This massive house was owned by a prominent man back in the day-
and on the morning of his daughters wedding day he left a note on her pillow that her wedding gift was just down the street….
Yes, this was her wedding gift- and for her honeymoon, a year in Europe to purchase all of the furniture for it. Wow.
For dinner that evening, our final night, we were to go to the Boone Hall Plantation. Our tour guide earlier told us we were in for a treat and to look at the mortar used in the slave shacks (shells) I wasn’t sure what the evening was all about – I was excited and hopeful to photograph something amazing.
When the bus pulled up I was looking first and foremost for the slave shacks- and there they were along with a beautiful house. We immediately toured the house and thats when we were told it was where “The Notebook” was filmed! The grounds were incredible-
And then I hit the mother load! All week I was looking for a quilt shop with no luck…. and there it was in all its glory- I was on a cotton plantation! This is where my quilts all begin!!!!!
Craig and I walked through the slave shacks. Both of us had such heavy hearts. You couldn’t help but feel deeply, these were such beautiful people.
These steps affected me the most, to think of how it felt walking out for the 12 hour day.
Dinner was served, I love this shot!
Appetizers consisted of shucking your own oysters and picking crab meat along with some amazing dips and fried green tomatoes. This was really cool out on the patio behind the barn.
The sun was setting – is this where Noah and Allie went in the canoe?!
Dinner was served in the barn – shrimp and grits, pulled pork sandwiches, green beans with sugared pecans( my fav!) dry rubbed grilled chicken,corn bread and sweet tea. Dessert didn’t get photographed because I was distracted by key lime pie, chocolate mousse and miniature apricot pies. Trust me, good stuff!
We had such a wonderful time in Charleston! Such great people we met along the way, experiences that have made me a better person and memories caught forever to cherish <3