Rouged Roads

In a few areas such as Stoll’s Alley and lower Church Street, visitors can still find brick street paving that once stretched for miles around historic #Charleston. As I feel guest on my walking tours, there was an abundance of brick manufactured in Charleston historically, but there was also much that was shipped here from other brick manufacturers around the country and world. The quality of brick depended largely on its underground origins and the methods used to fire it in hot kilns to create a sturdy mass of material. To that extent there were areas in the country that had superior raw materials and manufacturing methods, such as the Katterskill Brick Paving Company in Catskill, New York. The company specialized in waterproof “vitrified brick” made from shale, and in 1908-1909 the city of Charleston purchased tons of Catskill brick and used it to pave extensively. The city acknowledged that the brick from New York was superior, but just to make sure, purchased what were known as “rattlers” to test the strength of the brick by tumbling them in cages with hard pieces of iron. Obviously, the “rattling” proved the affirmative, as these bricks have held up under cars and trucks for more than a century. <img.src=”Charleston History” alt=”brick paved streets”

Brass and Braille

Most people are focused upward and outward while visiting historic #Charleston, but there are a number of things worth noting beneath your feet. In 1909, the city started adding cast-brass street plate names into the sidewalks, and they can be found throughout the city still today. A few sidewalk plates show different names than the street signs above them – as in the pictured “St. Michael’s Place” plate, above which the street sign says “St. Michael’s Alley”. About a century after the brass plates were added, the city also laid what is called “tactile paving” at street corners as a means for the visually impaired to be warned about stepping off the sidewalk into a street. The raised bumps don’t really spell out anything as in genuine braille, but they make it clearly understood as to the warning not to step into the path of an oncoming vehicle. <img.src=”Charleston Curiosities” alt=”sidewalk plates”

Medicinal Memories

There are a number of buildings in historic #Charleston that feature the look of a medieval castle. This style, known as castellated or crenelated, can be found at the old District Jail, the Slave Mart Museum and, as pictured here, at the Waring Historic Library. The Waring, as it is sometimes called, was built in 1894 near Ashley Avenue as part of Porter Military Academy. Because the mission of the academy was to school young boys in Christian ideals, the cross is prominently displayed on the exterior. The property was sold to the Medical University of South Carolina in 1966, and the old building was rededicated as a library for medical sciences, and named for Charleston physician Joseph Waring, who spent much of his career accumulating books, pamphlets and other educational materials focused on the advancement of medical science. <img.src=”Charleston Architecture” alt=”Waring Historic Library”

Timber Tale

Rarely do people walking along historic Broad Street in #Charleston take much notice of this particular tree, which is the only one of its kind on the street, and with an unusual story to boot. This is a Cypress tree which was planted in 1989 shortly after hurricane Hugo devastated the area with category 4 winds. As a sign of rebirth, friends of mine planted this tree in a small patch of sidewalk where the slate surface had cracked, exposing soil beneath. The scenic city had been badly battered and lost many grand oaks, and this tiny seedling was one of the first attempts to restore the arboreal beauty for which our city is renowned. Thirty years later, the cypress towers over the street as an attractive complement to rows of historic architecture, and stands as a reminder of the city’s undaunted spirit.<img.src=”Charleston Curiosities” alt=”Broad Street Cypress”