In our second installment of M. Dumas & Sons Recommends, we chose to highlight the incredible History of Charleston, SC. From our favorite museums to historical sites, these are the places you don't want to miss out on during your visit to the Holy City!
Where to stay?
A 21-room tribute to Charleston’s gilded age, the historic Wentworth Mansion exudes the glamour and grandeur of the Holy City. Italian crystal chandeliers, hand-carved marble fireplaces, and Tiffany stained glass create a setting of gracious hospitality, further enhanced by luxurious amenities and thoughtful guest experiences - all just a short stroll from King Street’s world-class dining and shopping.
In the Spring and Fall, take advantage of the Preservation Society's annual Tour of Homes and the Historic Charleston Foundation's Festival of Houses & Gardens respectively.
- Old Slave Mart Museum: Located at 6 Chalmers St., the Old Slave Mart Museum is the first African-American Museum. It is often staffed by individuals who can trace their history to Charleston slaves. Many people don’t realize that at one point during slavery as many as 35-40% of slaves entered the United States through Charleston. Plan on spending at least an hour reading the very informative posters and soaking in the history.
- South Carolina Historical Society Museum: An architectural treasure in its own right, the South Carolina Historical Society Museum is housed in a National Historic Landmark building and features interactive exhibits on the people, places, and movements that shaped the state and nation. With 350 years of state history comprised in rare books, manuscripts, and visual materials, the South Carolina Historical Society is the state’s largest and oldest private archive as well as a modern historical museum.
- The Charleston Museum: The Charleston Museum is one of the oldest museums in the United States. Its highly regarded collection includes historic artifacts, natural history, decorative arts and two historic Charleston houses. Progressively acquired since the late 18th century, the Museum's collections now represent the most comprehensive assemblage of South Carolina materials in the nation. Focusing on the South Carolina Lowcountry, modern collecting emphases include natural history, historical material culture and both documentary and photographic resources.
- H.L. Hunley: The night of February 17th, 1864, the Confederate submarine H. L. Hunley attacked and sank the USS Housatonic off the coast of Charleston. She then mysteriously vanished with her crew of eight. That night, history was made and a mystery was born. The Hunley became the first submarine ever to sink an enemy ship. Lost at sea for over a century, the Hunley was located in 1995 by author Clive Cussler and raised on August 8th, 2000. The innovative hand-cranked vessel was delivered to the Warren Lasch Conservation Center, where an international team of scientists are at work to conserve the submarine for future generations and piece together clues to solve the mystery of her disappearance.
Locations to Visit
- Drayton Hall: For more than 250 years, Drayton Hall has stood witness to the American South. Among the best and most complete examples of Southern colonial life open to the public today, the property holds a vital educational responsibility. It is also an active archaeological site with an extensive museum collection of rare 18th- and 19th-century objects and artifacts.
- Aiken Rhett House: Built in 1820 by merchant John Robinson, the Aiken-Rhett House is nationally significant as one of the best-preserved townhouse complexes in the nation. Vastly expanded by Governor and Mrs. William Aiken, Jr. in the 1830s and again in the 1850s, the house and its outbuildings include a kitchen, the original slave quarters, carriage block and back lot. The house and its surviving furnishings offer a compelling portrait of urban life in antebellum Charleston, as well as a Southern politician, slaveholder and industrialist.
- Magnolia Cemetery: The oldest public cemetery in Charleston, founded 1849 on the banks of the Cooper River, is listed on National Register of Historic Places. It is the final resting place for generations of Southern leaders that include governors Thomas Bennett, Langdon Cheves, Horace L. Hunley and Robert Barnwell Rhett. The hundreds of Confederate soldiers buried here include five generals - Micah Jenkins, Arthur Manigault, Roswell Ripley, James Conner and C.H. Stevens.
- Charleston Tea Plantation: The Charleston Tea Plantation is located on historic Wadmalaw Island in the heart of the Lowcountry of South Carolina. This is the home of Charleston Tea Plantation teas - nine very special flavors of tea, including our original American Classic Tea. Today, the beautiful 127-acre Charleston Tea Plantation has become the standard bearer for the long and illustrious American tea story.
- Middleton Plantation: A National Historic Landmark, home to the oldest landscaped gardens in America and an enduring, vibrant, and essential part of the Charleston and American experience, Middleton Place is owned and operated by the Middleton Place Foundation. The Foundation, an educational trust established in 1974, uses historic preservation, documented research, and interpretation as a force for education, understanding, and positive change.
Before you leave, don't miss out on the chance to dine at one of America's most historic restaurants- McCrady's Tavern. Built by Edward McCrady in 1778, McCrady's Tavern has welcomed guests and now offers American cuisine with an ever-evolving seasonal menu, an award-winning wine and beverage program, and genuine hospitality. This magnificent space has attracted city leaders and socialites since its earliest days and is renowned for the prestigious grand dinner party thrown for President George Washington during his southern tour in 1791, and is recognized on the National Register of Historic Places and Landmarks.