This is a town that prides itself for its history and heritage, and Charleston has a great number of historical buildings and some fascinating museums. Enjoying the charm of days gone by as well as examining some of the darker sides of Charleston’s past will keep you occupied, while light-hearted relief can be found in the city’s parks and at the Aquarium.
Charleston is packed with historic houses and you will be hard pushed to get round them all. If you only have time to explore one or two, significant homes include Calhoun Mansion, which is an exquisitely ornate mansion that boasts nothing short of extravagance; Edmonston-Alston House, an antebellum treasure dating from 1825; and Nathaniel-Russell House, featuring a three-storey high flying staircase. Most of the historic houses showcase original furnishings as well as some interesting features such as slaves’ quarters.
Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon
This building has served many purposes in its time, from a customs house to a prison to a museum. Built in 1771, this colonial structure now details the history of the building and Charleston, and features exhibits on revolutionaries and pirates. The highlight is the sinister dungeons below, where prisoners were kept and punished during the Revolutionary War.
Tracing Civil War history, this museum is a good antidote to the colonial history that the town’s attractions tends to emphasize on. Charleston’s significant role in the war can be understood along with its defeat by Union forces, a blow that was to have a devastating effect on the town. The collection on display includes blood-stained ladies’ gloves, tattered flags and battleship splinters.
This is Charleston’s most visited museum, showcasing the city’s memorabilia and tracing the past of the town from its beginnings as a trade port through the Civil War and up to the present day. The museum dates from 1773, making it the oldest in the United States. Early collections include pickled snakes, Egyptian mummies and casts from the British Museum.