While downtown Charleston is most often known for its historic district, a variety of unique neighborhoods exist within the city center. From picturesque South of Broad to the artistic French Quarter, there’s plenty here for guests to delight in. In our next installment of Downtown Discovered, we will explore the diverse and lively Harleston Village.
Stretching from King Street, west to the Ashley River, Harleston Village is bordered by Calhoun Street to the north and Broad to the South. Frequently called Harleston’s Green, the area was part of a grant made to John Coming in 1671 and later inherited by John Harleston. Streets named for prominent men of the period, including Lord Charles Greville Montagu and Lt. Gov. William Bull, still bear their names today.
Originally developed in 1770, the neighborhood is a mix of Antebellum houses and upscale modern townhouses situated along tree-lined streets. Be sure to stroll past the most famous homes in the area, the 1802 Gaillard-Bennett house at 60 Montagu Street and the 1800 William Blacklock house at 18 Bull Street. The Gaillard-Bennett house boasts 10,000 square feet of Georgian/Adam details plus one of the most impressive formal gardens in Charleston while the Blacklock House is a National Historic Landmark.
Founded in 1700, the same year as the initial development of Harleston Village, the College of Charleston is the oldest education institution south of Virginia, and the 13th oldest in the United States. Also located in Harleston Village and owned by the College of Charleston, the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture holds regular exhibits, tours, lectures and workshops dedicated to educating the community on the history and culture of African Americans in the Lowcountry.
A hub of learning in historic Charleston, Harleston Village is also home to the American College of the Building Arts, the country’s only four-year liberal arts college educating and training artisans in the traditional building arts. While staying at Belmond Charleston Place, be sure to stop into the Thoroughbred Club for tapas, served on trays created by local blacksmithing students.
Places of Interest:
From college students to families to the elderly, you are likely to see numerous people outside enjoying the various parks in the neighborhood. Colonial Lake, a tidal lake currently undergoing a $5 million revitalization, is the perfect place for afternoon strolls. You will see walkers, joggers, bikers, kids and dogs at this family-friendly spot. Located near the Medical University of South Carolina, Cannon Park was previously a sawmill pond before becoming a convention hall, museum and hospital. A fire destroyed the hall in 1981, leaving behind its four grand columns, still visible today.
Grab a cup of coffee from the minimalist-chic Second-State Coffee, before heading out to explore Harleston Village. Make sure you stop to see the Old City Jail on Magazine Street, home to pirates, gangsters and even ghosts! By day, the Old City Jail houses the American College of the Building Arts and at night, is open for haunted walking tours. In case you’ve scared up an appetite, visit Queen Street Grocery, established in 1922 and home to irresistible crepes and hot pressed sandwiches. Once you’ve had your fill, head down Broad Street and wind around to the City Marina, for stunning views of the Ashley River. End your day with a cocktail at Salty Mike’s while watching the sun set! A perfect end to an ideal Lowcountry day.