One of the most well known and most iconic presidents has a connection to Charleston, the Holy City. John F. Kennedy’s first experience with Charleston was when he was stationed here for the Navy. While in Charleston, Kennedy worked for the Office of Naval Intelligence. At the time, Charleston was so overwhelmed with Navy personnel that Charleston’s mayor asked the residents of Charleston to help out by opening their homes to them. Kennedy was taken in by a local family, the Middleton Family, and he lived on the Battery on Murray Boulevard for several months. During his stay, Kennedy attended house parties in the area and enjoyed all that Charleston had to offer. He talked about how much he enjoyed the city and how the hospitality was like no other. John F. Kennedy was in a relationship with Inga Arvad while in Charleston. The FBI was suspicious of their relationship and worried that she may be a spy of some sort during World War II. During their calls, the FBI would listen and recorded their conversations. Inga Arvad also visited Kennedy in Charleston occasionally. During her stay in Charleston with Kennedy, the FBI placed them under surveillance, carefully watched their activities and bugged her room. Arvad and Kennedy were observed and recorded by the Charleston field office as well. Kennedy suspected that he was transferred from Washington, D.C., where Inga Arvad lived, to Charleston because of their romance. Inga Arvad was considered by the FBI as a potential security risk. They felt that she had a major effect on him. Kennedy’s stay in Charleston was both good and bad. He made many memories with the residents in the city but also had trouble there with his relationship as well.
We have finally moved to our new location at 18 Anson St. and we couldn’t be happier. Yes, it was sad to leave our office in the Rainbow Market after so many memories, but this new location has been a nice change. It was time for us to expand into a bigger space.
“Your life does not get better by chance. It gets better by change.” – Jim Rohn
At 18 Anson St., we will be able to accommodate waiting guests in our very own driveway just off the house. We’ll also have a spacious porch for waiting, plus two restrooms for our guests. The main office area provides plenty of space for tour check-in and an area for guests to wait in inclement weather.
This house-turned-office dates back to 1894 when Margaret McGrath owned the home. It is recorded that her husband died in the home from a stomach ulcer in 1908. Could our new office be haunted? We shall see! Several homeowners were recorded after the McGraths. The Sease family owned the home from 1919 to 1949. The Majors owned the home from 1958 to 1976. Not much is recorded since then. It has mostly been used as a dwelling.
We look forward to sharing our new office with you. Please come by and visit. Halloween is right around the corner so we expect the hustle and bustle of our favorite holiday to bring many visitors. We also look forward to being close to our horse and carriage neighbors, Old South Carriage and Charleston Carriage Works.
House and Garden Tours are the perfect way to spend a gorgeous day in downtown Charleston. Each tour is within walking distance of each other, the tours are organized by a central street. Along each tour, you are welcome to view inside eight or more private houses and gardens. The tours highlight historic architecture and the colonial buildings, as well as revealing the rich history of Charleston. The guides at each tour can provide further information about the historic homes and gardens. Throughout the tour, guests can also see collections of furniture and art. The streets that provide house and garden tours include Tradd Street, Broad Street, South Battery, East Battery, Church Street, King Street, Anson Street, and Charlotte Street. The beautiful gardens throughout the tours perfectly demonstrate Charleston and its sophistication. Guides along the tour explain the garden designs, plant material and the history behind it all. The tours are on foot, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes. Not only will you learn more about the history of Charleston, but it is also a great opportunity to view the gorgeous historic houses and gardens you pass by throughout the city. Between all the tours offered, you have the chance to view approximately 150 private historic houses within 10 colonial and antebellum neighborhoods. Reservations can be made and tickets can be purchased, which is strongly encouraged. The Historic Charleston Foundation offers their House & Garden Tours in the spring and The Charleston Preservation Society offers theirs in the fall.
Known as one of the three most historically significant colonial structures in the country, the Old Exchange Building is filled with rich history dating back to when Charleston began. When built in 1767, the Exchange Building accommodated commercial imports and exports with its Palladian architecture, as well as supported the political and social scene in Charleston; as Charleston was the most prosperous port in the South. The Exchange Building was played a big role in the developing nation. The Declaration of Independence was read on the very balcony that still stands today. And the Legislature met at the Exchange Building to ratify the new State Constitution in 1790. During his stay in Charleston in May of 1791, George Washington also hosted banquets and events at the building. The Old Exchange does not only represent all the bright and wonderful parts of America’s history. For generations, slaves were sold on the same balcony that the Declaration of Independence was read. Underneath the building, pirates, deserters, civil war prisoners and socialites were chained with heavy iron. Disease, sickness, rats and death ran rancid throughout the dungeon and the dead were often left to rot with the living prisoners. One famous pirate held in the Old Exchange Dungeon until his execution in 1718 and known as the “gentleman” pirate was Stede Bonnet, who was taken under the command of Blackbeard for a number of months. Declared a national historic landmark in 1973, many people claim that the building is haunted with ghosts of the prisoners that were once held in the dungeon, and the upstairs is filled with colonial spirits. The Old Exchange Building preserves much of the nation’s history and is an unforgettable experience! For more details, visit their website.
Today, the Charleston Battery is a beautiful place shaded by large oak trees overlooking the Charleston harbor, but the Battery has many layers of history behind it. The Battery has not always been a place full of beauty. In fact, it has been the place of many deaths as well as a war. The Battery got its start in 1670, when passengers sailing into Charleston harbor were greeted at the tip of the peninsula. At the very tip of the peninsula was a place where the local Indians disposed of many white oyster shells, giving the point the name White Point. The town of Charleston began to develop near and around the Battery. Before 1752 when a hurricane battered the Battery, poor people set up shacks and called it home, and in 1770, elegant homes were built at the Battery, which many still stand today. During the War of 1812 when the British blockaded Charleston Harbor, large caliber guns were placed along the White Point and the name the Battery was coined. After the war, the oak trees which still stand today were planted. Under the shade trees at the Battery is a stone monument reminding visitors that White Point was the location of many pirates’ executions. Over the course of five weeks, roughly fifty pirates were hung underneath the beautiful oaks. Though not captured and hanged at the Battery, the notorious Blackbeard blockaded the Charleston harbor and demanded medical supplies. Among the not so lucky pirates though, was Stede Bonnet also known as “The Gentleman Pirate.” He was born into a wealthy English family and bought his way into piracy. Once he was captured, he was imprisoned in the home of the town’s Provost Marshall. He escaped the house, but was captured and found guilty, sentencing him to be hanged. His crew was hanged two days before him at White Point, where their bodies were left hanging. Stede Bonnet was hanged at the Battery on December 10, 1718 and his body remained hanging for several days after execution until his body was dumped in the marsh with the remains of his men. The history behind the Charleston Battery is memorable in both good and bad ways. Such a beautiful part of Charleston was once the death place for many as well as a place of war.
Fort Moultrie, the first fort on Sullivan’s Island, protected Charleston from British occupation in 1776. Throughout the years between 1776 and 1809 the fort continuously suffered destruction from war and neglect until it was rebuilt with brick in 1809. Today the fort stands in its restored form to portray different periods throughout its history. Visit the fort and you will take a walk through history from the Palmetto-log fort in 1776 to the World War II Harbor Control Entrance Post. Fort Moultrie, the visitor center, historic fort, and parking area are open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm daily with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. You can access the fort by car on Sullivan’s Island with an entrance fee. Those who have the America the Beautiful-National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands Pass have free admittance. At the fort, self and guided tours are available as well as a visitor center and museum that features a 20 minute film about the fort’s history. This is a must for any visitor in Charleston seeking to learn more about Charleston’s history. This well preserved and well furbished fort uses videos, artifacts and dioramas to bring the history of Fort Moultrie to life. The various sections of the fort represent the various periods in history in which it played a role. Whether it is rainy or sunny, the fort is a perfect place to visit. Not only is it convenient because you can easily access it by road, but you can stay as long as you wish. Fort Moultrie is a must do on your itinerary for your Charleston visit.
The graveyards throughout Charleston serve as the final resting place for many people famous to the city. St. Philips churchyard is home to the graves of John C. Calhoun, Edward Rutledge, Charles Pinckney, Christopher Gadsden and Dubose Heyward; and Magnolia Cemetery is the final resting place of Thomas Bennett, Langton Cheves, Horace L. Hunley and Robert Barnwell Rhett. The Circular Congregational Churchyard is teeming with history with some of the oldest gravestones in Charleston. These graveyards contain over 500 gravestones, the oldest dating back to 1675, which is the oldest known grave in Charleston as well as the oldest surviving tomb structure composed of a round-topped brick burial vault covered in stucco and negated of any markings. Many wealthy Charleston families kept up their lavish taste with the gravestone art imported from New England. The gravestones in Charleston’s graveyards display beautiful decorations and art influence of the Puritan ways in New England with symbolic images of plants such as weeping willows, pomegranate, figs and acanthus; and other common gravestone decorations include the hourglass and a common inscription of the Latin phrase “Memento Mori,” which means remember, you must die. Another popular symbol amongst the gravestones is the skull which symbolizes death. One of the rarest symbols that appear on two gravestones in St. Philip’s is the complete skeleton. The gravestones in Charleston’s graveyards still bear the thin rule-lines used by the artisans to keep the lettering straight, which can be seen with close inspection. Charleston graveyards are a quiet and beautiful place to reflect upon the rich history of the city.
Introduced to the Lowcountry in the 17th century by Africans from the regions of West Africa, the Sweetgrass Basket has become a Lowcountry trademark. Enslaved Africans brought the skill of making the baskets when they arrived to the Lowcountry as slaves. The enslaved Africans often made baskets for use on the plantation as well as for sale. Many Africans who were no longer able to work in the fields spent their days making baskets. The art of making baskets from sweetgrass began to change due to the Civil War and Emancipation. Women began making smaller baskets for use in their own homes to store food as well as on plantations. The baskets also began to be made as an art form for sale. After the Civil War, Mt. Pleasant in particular landed many black families that began mass producing show baskets for profit. In the 1900’s, basket makers began selling the sweetgrass baskets in gift shops and by catalogues that were owned by white businessmen. Merchants began buying baskets that were attractive to tourists which modified the art of basketmaking. Today, sweetgrass baskets vary in shape and size. Basket makers can be found in the Mt. Pleasant area as well as many places in Charleston. The baskets are mainly made by women who no longer work outside of their homes and the sweetgrass is still mainly gathered by men. Although tourism allows the art to economically prosper, the use of land threatens the natural resources needed to make the baskets. The survival of the production of sweetgrass baskets, unique to the Lowcountry, relies on the tourists as well as others who purchase them. For more information, visit this website.
Social medialites from around the Lowcountry will gather together to celebrate this phenomenon that keeps us all connected from 4-7 p.m. Monday, June 30 at The Alley in downtown Charleston. Why? The Charleston Hospitality Social Media Group noticed that Mashable.com sponsors a national Social Media Day and wanted to get in on the buzz. Some of the other cities around the country that celebrate Social Media Day are San Francisco, Atlanta and New York. All the Charleston Hospitality Social Media Group had to do was get our mayor to recognize it in an official proclamation (those were the terms with Mashable.com). Luckily, under the direction of Katie Wells, Mayor Joe Riley jumped on board and proclaimed June 30 Charleston’s Social Media Day.
A small committee of members from the Charleston Hospitality Social Media Group got together to plan the day. The event will include fun prizes from Charleston area attractions, restaurants and others in the hospitality industry, including Middleton Place, Circa 1886, French Quarter Inn, Bulldog Tours, Charleston Harbor Tours, and Magnolias Restaurant. Some of the categories for prizes are “Most Spirited Award,” “Best Charleston Picture,” “Most Creative Use of the Hashtag #chsyou,” “Charleston Foodie Pix,“ and “Selfie with a Charleston Celebrity.” Participants are encouraged to share their prize entries on Twitter and/or Facebook using hashtag #chsyou.
The event has also really racked up on sponsors. The list is long, but some of them include Bulldog Tours, French Quarter Inn, KEW Solutions, 4Q Launch and The Modern Connection. The event has garnered lots of attention and even had representatives talking about the event on the local TV show, Lowcountry Live.
Charleston’s Social Media Day is sure to be a hit and is the first of many annual Social Media Day celebrations to come. For more information, visit the Charleston Hospitality Social Media Group’s Facebook page.
We are so happy to announce our Summer Selfie Contest! We will be conducting this contest through Facebook and Twitter. Simply upload your selfie taken in front of a famous Charleston spot and you could win a free trip to Charleston. All you have to do is get the most “likes” for your selfie. Once you upload your photo to Facebook, we’ll move it to a designated album for the contest to facilitate easy voting. If you share your photo on Twitter, be sure to tag us (@BulldogTours) and use the hashtag #bulldogtoursselfie. We’ll add photos shared via Twitter to the Facebook album as well.
The winner gets a two-night stay at the Palmer Pinckney Inn in Charleston, a $50 gift card to Cru Café and four tickets to go on our tours (either the Charleston Strolls or your choice of one of the night tours). The winner will be announced at noon on August 1, 2014. You may share your photos and vote all the way up until August 1.
Please note that the hotel room will be valid for two nights from Sunday through Thursday and expires on August 1, 2015. The $50 Cru Café gift card expires on May 30, 2015. The four tickets for Bulldog tours expire on August 1, 2015. This contest is for a limited time and is in no way sponsored by Facebook or Twitter. Also, please note that we reserve the right to refuse a photo for any reason.
For more information, please contact Theresa Stratford, marketing director for Bulldog Tours, at Theresa@bulldogtours.com or 843-722-8687.