Brick Background

This 1830’s #Charleston house is very typical in two ways. First, it is a brick structure dressed up with a stucco facade, and in this case clearly shows how these thin layers of lime and sand can be made very colorful. In the days before latex paint, oil colors would only seal in moisture and damage the building, so the stucco was pigmented with colors that came from mineral sources and compounds. The most rare and difficult to make usually became the fashion in hues such as this dazzling blue, and in modern times have been recreated in latex paints that allow the surface to breathe. Secondly, the house is like so many in the Ansonborough district, which burned in a huge 1838 fire that claimed more than 1,000 buildings. The city of Charleston was very wealthy at that time with the introduction of railroads that stimulated the economy, so the municipal government helped landowners rebuild Ansonborough very quickly with “fire loans” that made money available at cheap rates. <img.src=”Charleston Architecture” alt=”Ansonborough houses


Mother Mary

The 1839 Greek Revival style Church of St. Mary of the Anunciation on Hasell Street is my family’s church and my great-great-great grandfather, Auguste Paul Trouche, is buried in the churchyard. The congregation was the first official Roman Catholic church in the South, incorporated in 1791. The original wooden structure on the location was replaced by a brick church in 1806, which burned in 1838, and a year later the current structure was opened. Contrary to what is commonly told on tours in #Charleston today, Catholicism was not banned in colonial South Carolina, as paragraph 97 of the 1669 Fundamental Constitution of Carolina cleared states that all beliefs were tolerated. Catholics were banned from holding public office until after the Revolution, but there were Catholics in Charleston long before that – but there was no acting priest or diocese until after the Revolution. Originally part of the Diocese of Baltimore, the Diocese of Charleston was created in 1820. Interestingly, the church is directly across Hasell Street from another congregation that was shunned in the early days of the colony as well, but still had practicing believers – Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim,  the oldest Jewish synagogue in continuous use in America. <img.src=”Charleston Architecture” alt=”St. Mary’s Church


Ponderous Pulpit

The 18th century pulpit inside #St. Michael’s Church in #Charleston has a singular look and history. The structure was hand-carved from mahogany and features the interesting “Christograph” panel with the IHS, Iota Eta Sigma, the Greek abbreviation of Jesus, as well as the symbol of Star of David inside a triangle. This is symbolic of Old Testament, Star of David, and New Testament, Holy Trinity. The pulpit also features its massive sounding board, or tympanum, that is brilliantly created to balance on two rear wooden columns. The pulpit has survived more than the wrath of the Almighty, having been scarred by a Federal artillery shell fired into the church by Union troops bombarding the city in 1865. <img.src=”Classic Architecture” alt=”St. Michael’s Church pulpit

Callimachus’ Contribution

The Acanthus Mollis is a common sight in #Charleston #gardens in the Summer. This non-native perennial comes from the Middle East, and the name comes from Greek, meaning “soft thorns” referring to the tiny thorns in its sepals. The most interesting visual aspect of the acanthus is its drooping flowers in combinations of purple and white on vertical stalks. According to the ancient architectural historian Vitruvius, it was the beauty of these flowers rising around a woman’s grave that inspired Greek sculptor Callimachus (circa 5th century BC) to create what is now considered the highest order of column capitals – the Corinthian Order. We see good examples of the acanthus on the tour, both in plant form and in architecture. <img.src=”Charleston Gardens” alt=”Acanthus Mollis

Spectacular Spectrum

Historic #Charleston is a photographer’s delight, with an abundance of classic architectural shapes, statuesque trees, glistening iron gates, manicured gardens and everywhere, dazzling colors made by man and nature. The exotic plants that have been introduced to Charleston over the centuries from around the world offer rich hues of brilliant blooms. The storied buildings are a visual marvel as well, with exterior walls splashed in shades of orange, raspberry, lime, indigo, canary, mustard and plum. In the city;s heyday after the American Revolution, pigmentation of buildings became a source of pride and an indication of wealth, with vivid colors created from minerals and compounds that were initially added to layers of wet stucco and brushed over bricks. Today, many of those historic colors have been reproduced in latex, making the application a much easier and lasting process and a look that visitors will not soon forget. <img.src=”Charleston SC” alt=”Colors”

Unconventional Unitarians

The Unitarian Church on Archdale Street in historic #Charleston is the 3rd oldest in the city, completed in 1787 and remodeled in the 1850’s by noted Charleston architect Francis Lee, incorporating English Renaissance and Gothic Revival styles. The Unitarians were always considered to be unconventional, and one of their intrinsic beliefs is that the son of God was not as divine as God himself, and therefore were not considered by some to be Christians. The Unitarians were very progressive in many respects, and were sympathetic to abolition and to women’s rights. One of the famous legends of the church graveyard is that the congregation was the only one in Charleston willing to accept the body of the notorious Lavinia Fisher, hanged for highway robbery in 1882, and whose body lies here in an unmarked grave. This area on Archduke Street is one of the city’s most scenic, including the Garden Walk. <img.src=”Charleston Architecture” alt=”Unitarian Church”

Mystical Mimosas

The stunning flower of this summer-blooming tree was    first introduced to #Charleston in 1785, with the arrival of French botanist Andre Michaux, who brought a number of exotic species to America, including the Crepe Myrtle and Camellia. Although not a true Mimosa, the name adds flair to a tree which is actually related to soybeans, chickpeas, and peanuts, and who scientific name is a mouthful – Albizia Julibrissin. Michaux was royal gardener under Louis XVI, but instead of losing his head to the guillotine as did his former employer, he was sent by the French Revolutionary government to America as an naturalist emissary, and would find a home in Charleston for more than ten years, exploring the Southeast for other species, such as the one from the mountains he named the Rhododendron. <img.src=”Charleston Gardens” alt=”Mimosa Tree”

Gothic Grandeur

The interior of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, circa 1862, is one of the most dramatic displays in #historicCharlestonSC. It was designed by architect Francis D. Lee, who was an incredibly talented Charleston native. Lee, who became a Confederate office in the defense of Charleston during the #CivilWar, was so creative that he designed a torpedo boat, The Torch, planned for use against the Federal blockading squadron that tried to cut the maritime supply lines to the South. Lee’s various building designs included Moorish Revival, Italianate and Gothic Revival, and all of the work he did that still exists is very eye-catching today. <img.src=”Charleston Architecture” alt=”St. Luke’s Episcopal Church”

Singular Seal

This version of the state seal of South Carolina is at the #WashingtonLightInfantry monument in Washington Square. The seal was created in 1776 with the declaration of South Carolina’s independence from England, and this version shows mythical figures representing the citizenry beside the two ovals with Latin versions of the state motto. On the left, the Palmetto tree with the inscription “Animis Opibusque Parati”, meaning “prepared in mind and resources” and on the right, the Greek goddess Spes, meaning hope, and the inscription “Dum Spiro Spero”, while I breathe I hope. We walk past version of the state seal on my tour. <img.src=”South Carolina History” alt=”State Seal”

Calhoun Crypt

One of the most famous graves in #Charleston is that of #JohnCCalhoun. Calhoun was not a Charlestonian, actually born in Abbeville, SC in 1782, but when he died in 1850, he had become such a notable Southern figure, that it was decided he would be buried in the city from which South Carolina was born. The funeral was done with tremendous fanfare, as thousands of participants marched in honor of Calhoun, who had served under four presidents – twice Vice-President (John Q. Adams and Andrew Jackson) Secretary of War (James Monroe) and Secretary of State (John Tyler) and was US Senator and Congressman. But the Charleston burial did not suit everyone, and there were demands from the upstate that he be buried there. In the early 20th century, a group called STORCH (Society to return Calhoun home) allegedly tried to exhume his body, and the sarcophagus was opened to make sure he was still there – and indeed he was. We often visit the Calhoun gravesite on the walking tour. <img.src=”Famous Charlestonians” alt=”John C. Calhoun”