Fortunate Faber

The 1836 Palladian villa built by Henry Faber on East Bay Street in #historic #Charleston was one of several grand mansions built in the heyday of the city’s antebellum fortunes and classic architecture. The line of elegant buildings faced the Cooper River from a section of rising land known as Hampstead Hill. The higher elevation and the proximity to the river gave owners a spectacular view and cooling breezes. One of the first railroads built in the city ran down the waterfront in front of the houses, making them in the line of fire during the #Civil War, and the area were largely abandoned by owners who fled the conflict. After the war, the area was mostly inhabited by former slaves, or freedmen, and by the early 20th century, the Faber House had been transformed into one of the few black-owned hotels in Charleston, the Hamitic Hotel. After the depression, the hotel closed and many of the former houses were razed for housing projects. A flurry of preservationism saved the Faber House in 1948, and today it has been beautifully restored as a combination of residential and office spaces. <img.src=”Charleston Historic Sites” alt=”Faber House”

Misplaced Markers

Many of the #historic grave stones in the burial ground of the First Baptist Church in #CharlestonSC are leaning up against the north wall of the property – and there’s an interesting reason why. The lot was purchased in 1696 by a group that moved to the city from Kittery, Maine. At that time, Maine was part of the Massachusetts colony, and the group from Kittery were being persecuted by the Massachusetts Puritans for religious beliefs that ran counter to those accepted in the colony. The people in the group called themselves Antipedobaptists, believing that infants did not have the capability to choose to be baptized and that baptism  into Christianity had to be a conscious adult choice. The Puritans reacted harshly, so the group moved to Carolina, as the colony was then called, which offered  freedom from persecution for all beliefs at part of its colonial constitution. The group built a small wooden meeting house on a lot they bought on #Church Street, which was surrounded by a small graveyard. As the years progressed, the group changed its name to Anabaptists and then Baptists, and grew in numbers. Eventually the old structure was replaced with a church in the 1740’s, and the current church on the site added in 1822. Because the newer building required a much larger footprint on the small lot, the church was built on old grave sites, and the stones moved to the wall to remember this buried beneath. <img.src=”Charleston Historic Sites” alt=”First Baptist Church”

Peculiar Panes

The window panes in several of old #Charleston’s most #historic buildings feature an odd look that seems as though someone shot them with a BB gun. In fact, what this curious circles in the glass represent are the skills of the artisans who made these panes by hand. Before the industrial revolution made glass-making a mechanized procedure, window were typically made of what became known as Crown glass. The term comes from the molten glass that was created in kilns with a raised edge, or crown. The still-molten glass was attached as it cooled to a long pole, or pontil, and spun so that the centrifugal force would spread it into plates that were made into window panes. The attached section, was called the bullseye because of the large ripples created by the spinning, and was often cut out and thrown away. But it became fashionable to add the bullseye as one of the panes to show the skill of the artisan who made the glass. <img.src=”Charleston Curiosities” alt=”Bullseye window pane”

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. <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. <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”