Discovery, Featured

Anchored in History

Set off on an educational excursion and step back in time. As you cruise up the winding Ashley River, Charleston’s Lowcountry beauty is on full display. Your destination? The 300-year-old Middleton Place, home of the oldest landscaped gardens in North America.                  You may have already fallen in love with Charleston’s coastal appeal. A peninsula surrounded by water, glimpses of its blue shimmer peak out behind historic mansions and cobblestone streets. But beyond historic downtown, Charleston’s living history comes alive in an even more impactful way. Slip away for an insightful cruise with Coastal Expeditions and Master Captain Chris Crolley, one of the state’s most knowledgeable naturalists. As you pass the site of the first settlement dating back to 1670, Charles Towne Landing, you’ll be regaled with tales of those first settlers and the Kiawah and Wando tribes, who called the Lowcountry home. As you traverse up the Ashley River into more peaceful waters past notable sites like Drayton Hall and Magnolia Plantation, feel the ocean spray, smell the rich scent of pluff mud and be amazed as dolphins and pelicans glide past. As Middleton Place slowly comes into view, you’ll be reminded of how life once was, when visitors arrived via the waterways 200 years ago. Established in 1741, the plantation was the primary residence of several generations of the Middleton family, many of whom played prominent roles in the colonial and antebellum history of South Carolina along with the enslaved West Africans who lived and worked tirelessly to sustain the thriving plantation. Now a National Historic Landmark, the grounds are used as a museum to tell the complete history of the early Colonial period through the Revolution, the early Republic, the Civil War era and beyond. Surrounded by water on a tiny split of land, you’ll pull up onto the historic field dike, still preserved, as wild flowers and sea reeds blow in the distance. Birds fly over head and alligators can be seen swimming and sunning themselves on the adjacent bank. As you round the corner and traverse the grass path toward the main house, you’ll notice rolling terraces and buildings dating back to the 19th century. Escorted by Middleton Place’s expert Historian, a carriage ride will take you past the Cypress Lake and live oaks covered in Spanish moss, as you learn more about the upkeep – then and now – of these storied grounds. Next, you’ll be guided through the house museum, which contains original furniture before going “beyond the fields” to learn about the personal histories of the enslaved people. As you explore the working stableyard and barnyard, you’ll get a glimpse of the tools, pottery and clothing made by the skilled enslaved artisans. They also tended to an array of livestock and you’ll see that numerous animals still call Middleton Place home, including horses, sheep and water buffalo. After, get lost in thought among the allées in the formal gardens, considered to be the oldest in the country, where camellias date back to 1787 including the first four camellias brought to North America. The gardens are also home to the oldest tea olive and crepe myrtle trees in the country. Past the Butterfly Lakes, you’ll discover the most notable feature of the gardens, the Middleton Oak, a massive Southern live oak tree with a trunk diameter of 35 feet, generally thought to be amongst the oldest in the Southern United States. As you reflect on your day, discuss all that you learned as you savor a farm to table lunch with vegetables grown at the on-site organic farm before departing for downtown Charleston and your home away from home. An essential American experience, Anchored in History is exclusively available for guests of Charleston Place, A Belmond Hotel. For more information or to book this incomparable experience, contact us at 843-722-4900.
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Discovery

Downtown Discovered: Harleston Village

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.

Location:
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.

Concierge Tip:
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. 

History:
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.

Concierge Tip:
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.

Concierge Tip:
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.

 

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