Charleston South Carolina: Experience Low Country Culture

Charleston is a living museum filled with opportunities to experiences its well-preserved architecture, historic plantations and landmarks. Here are some ideas to make your visit a little more Southern.

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Tour Middleton Place

The birthplace of Arthur Middleton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, Middleton Place (circa 1730), has remained in the Middleton family for nearly 280 years. Visit the Middleton's home for an a glimpse into the daily life of the Middleton family as well as the enslaved Africans and freedmen who served them. Guests can also explore the Plantation Stableyards and observe weavers, carpenters and blacksmiths as they demonstrate the skills practiced by highly skilled artisan slaves on the grounds of America's oldest landscaped gardens.

Nathaniel Russell House

Recognized as one of America's most important Neoclassical dwellings, the Nathaniel Russell House was home to Nathaniel Russell, one of Charleston's wealthiest export merchants in the early 19thcentury. Restored to its original 1808 grandeur, The Nathaniel Russell House Museum depicts how the slave system was adapted from vast rural plantations to the urban setting of downtown Charleston. During the tour, visitors are invited to ponder archaeological objects found on the property, visit spaces where enslaved members of the Russell household lived and learn the responsibilities of the slaves who maintained one of nation's grandest Antebellum homes.

Genealogy Exploration

Founded in 1855, The South Carolina Historical Society is the state's oldest and largest private repository of books, letters, journals, maps, drawings and photographs dedicated to South Carolina history. The collection holds the rare Ball family plantation records, which include the "Blanket Book" of Elias Ball. It details the origins and descendants of a slave named Pricilla, who was captured at age 10 in Sierra Leon in 1751 and brought to Charleston, where she was sold to Ball. This is the only such record of its kind through which descendants can trace their lineage directly back to a specific person and place in Africa. Guests can trace ancestors and plantation names to discover family lineage in the Lowcountry.

Sweetgrass Basket Workshops

The Charleston Museum invites guests to learn the craft of sweetgrass basket weaving, an indigenous art form to West Africa that was introduced to the Lowcountry by slaves in the 17th century. Passed down from generation to generation, the sweetgrass basket weaving process remains unchanged by artisans today and is one of the most recognizable Gullah traditions. Gullah is the Charleston area's sea island culture with a distinctive language, cuisine, crafts, music and legends, most of which were brought from Africa and adapted to the New World. Originally made to winnow rice on the plantations, sweetgrass baskets have become sought after souvenirs and are even on display at the Smithsonian Institution. Lead by traditional basket weaver Sarah Edwards-Hammond, participants are supplied with the tools to create their very own baskets, while learning the heritage of this celebrated Lowcountry tradition.

BookBinding 101

Established in 1749, The Charleston Library Society, is the oldest cultural institution in the South and the third oldest circulating library in the U.S. past Director Brien Beidler oversaw repair and conservation of the Library's priceless collection. He directed courses and workshops on the art of the book and traditional binding methods. These responsibilities were passed over to our new Bindery Director, Kerri Harding in the summer of 2016.

Discover Charleston Art & Architecture

The Gibbes Museum of Art Discovery Tour interprets the rich artistic and architectural history of Charleston and gives participants the opportunity to explore Charleston through the perspective of its celebrated artists. A collaborative effort between the Gibbes Museum of Art and The Original Charleston Walks Company, the 90-minute tour begins in the Gibbes' permanent collection galleries and continues into the streets of historic downtown Charleston where visitors uncover the area's cultural and artistic history.

Tour The Avery Research Center

The Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture is located on the site of the former Avery Normal Institute, a school that trained African-American students for professional careers and leadership roles from 1865-1954. In 1985 the Avery Research Center formed in partnership with the College of Charleston with the mission to preserve the legacy of the Avery Normal Institute and educate the community on the history and culture of African Americans in Charleston, the South Carolina Lowcountry and state at large. Every year, the Avery Research Center develops exhibitions from its rich archival, art and rare manuscripts collections to pursue its mission. The Avery Research Center offers daily guided tours that observe the Avery Normal School, a recreated 19thcentury social studies classroom, and reflect on African Americans' journey to education and empowerment in the Lowcountry.

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Updated: November 27, 2016



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