5 Amazing Churches in Charleston

st-michaels

Charleston is nicknamed the Holy City for its beautiful, steepled skyline. But there’s a lot of history behind those holy walls, too. Here are five of downtown Charleston’s most storied, iconic churches.

Cathedral of St. John the BaptistThe Cathedral of St John the Baptist
120 Broad Street
The Cathedral of St John the Baptist, the mother church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston, stands like a majestic giant on Broad Street. Built between 1890 and 1907, the breathtaking cathedral is active as ever. Although the first brownstone cathedral burned to the ground in the 1861 fire, today the church seats 720 people. The Cathedral is renowned for its stunning hand-painted stained-glass Stations of the Cross and neo-gothic architecture. You can attend Saturday vigil mass at 5:30 p.m., Sunday family mass at 9 a.m., Sunday solemn mass with a choir at 6 p.m., or daily mass Monday through Friday at 12:05 p.m.

circular-churchCircular Congregational Church
150 Meeting Street
The Circular Congregational Church is one of the most iconic in the city, with its gorgeous Greek Revival architecture, seven great doors, and 26 windows. The congregation of the church was founded with Charles Town between 1680 and 1685. The current structure was constructed in 1890 after its previous form, built in 1804, was destroyed in the fire of 1861. Though the church and congregation has gone through tremendous challenges and changes, it thrives today as one of the most liberal places of worship in the city, championing the progressive, inclusive values of United Church of Christ, like civil and LGBT rights. All are welcome for worship services on Sundays at 10 a.m. Join them at any one of their many calendar events as well, including Buddhist meditation groups, film discussions, and theology book groups.

strolls-St-michaelsSt Michael’s Church
80 Meeting Street
A few steps away on Broad Street, at the Four Corners of Law, is St Michael’s Church, representing ecclesiastical law. It’s the oldest surviving religious structure in Charleston and certainly one of the most iconic. The national landmark was built between 1751 and 1761 on the site of St Philip’s original structure, which was ruined by a hurricane in 1710 and demolished in 1727. Its picturesque two-story portico featuring Tuscan columns was the first of its size in colonial America. Visitors are welcome inside for Sunday services or in the graveyard, where two signers of the US Constitution are buried along with many other historical figures. When you hear the bells chime, know that both the bells and the clock date back to colonial times, and that St Michael’s is the oldest tower clock in North America.

unitarian-churchUnitarian Church
8 Archdale Street
Another beautiful graveyard to wander through is located on Archdale, parallel to King Street in the antique district, at the Unitarian Church. The second-oldest church in the city, the perpendicular gothic-style church was constructed in 1772, designed by Francis Lee — though it has seen a lot of damage and reconstruction due to hurricanes as recent as 1989’s Hurricane Hugo. Its stained glass windows and vaulted ceiling with fan tracery make the sanctuary hands-down the most beautiful and awe-inspiring  one in the city. Services are on Sundays at 11 a.m., though in June through September they begin at 10 a.m.. Visiting hours are often held on Saturdays 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Visit the graveyard 8 a.m.-6 p.m. in the summer and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. in the winter.

steeple-emanuel-methodist-churchMother Emanuel AME
110 Calhoun Street
Infamous for last summer’s tragic events inside the church, Mother Emanuel AME is the oldest, most storied AME in the south. The Free African Society formed the Bethel Circuit in 1791 and reorganized in 1865 to erect the present structure in 1891. It was the first independent black denomination in America and one of the oldest black congregations south of Baltimore. Mother Emanuel has survived unimaginable pain, discrimination, and physical damage throughout its existence, including numerous raids by local officials. In 1822, it was burned to the ground by angry whites and again destroyed by an earthquake in 1886. Dr Martin Luther King Jr spoke at the church in 1962, and in 1969, King’s widow Coretta Scott King led a march of 1,500 demonstrators to the church in support of local hospital workers on strike. Today, the church is a symbol of resilience, strength, grace, and kindness. All are welcome to worship there on Sundays at 9:30 a.m.

Charleston Wins “Best Looking Tourists” Award ! !

Charleston SC VisitorOn the heels ofCharleston being voted “Top City in the U.S.” in the 2011 Conde Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards, we have been bestowed with another equally impressive award, “The Most Attractive Tourists in America”.  Voted by the readers of Beautiful People Illustrated, Charleston edged out numerous fashionable cities including Omaha, Detroit, Cincinnati, and Myrtle Beach. 

Long regarded as one of the South’s most cosmopolitan cities, Charlestonians have always taken pride in how they look.  Apparently, our guests share this pride when they vacation in Charleston.  

Charleston SC Traveler

We caught up with Charleston native and celebrity fashion designer, Robert Pilch, that commented, “Our guests are redefining the meaning of ‘travel wardrobes’ and they are just looking fab-u-lous.  We are just lovin’ all the folks with perfectly symmetrical facial features, high cheekbones, spectacular hair, darling accessories, all paired with the latest in haute couture fashion.  Nothing like a beautiful man on vacation with tailored clothes, swimmer’s build, bronzed skin, and . . . Please excuse me, I’m feeling a little woozy and need to get a glass of water“.

Myrtle Beach Tourists

This highly coveted award has been a yearly source of frustration for Myrtle Beach, our neighbor just 100 miles up the coast.  Their 2011 ranking dropped to # 739 from last years’ # 688 (out of 740 mentioned U.S. vacation spots).  Fashion insiders believe the Grand Strand’s downfall was due to their recent marketing campaign, “Visit Myrtle Beach, Where Half Shirts and Cut-Offs are Still Cool”.

Myrtle Beach’s Convention and Visitors Bureau could not be reached for comment.

SC Aquarium Finally Hosting a Fishing Tournament

Charleston SC AquariumExcited local fisherman gathered at the State House last night after the South Carolina General Assembly finally approved a fishing tournament at the SC Aquarium in Charleston.  Anglers from all over the region have been pushing for this event since the Lowcountry attraction opened in May of 2000. 

Intended to inspire conservation and to be used as an educational tool, the Aquarium is home to a variety of fish species, exotic plants, rare birds, reptiles, mammals, insects, and other wildlife creatures.

Aquarium spokesman Walter Capps hopes the event will bring an awareness of our delicate ecosystem and regional fish habitat. Charleston resident and fishing enthusiast Jamie Catoe hopes the event will bring him a freezer full of tasty fish.  “We have a 70 million dollar fishing tank and they expect me to pay them money to walk around and just look at the fish?  Yeah . . . . that ain’t gonna happen.   But I will pay them $20 to fish.  Hell, I’ll pay em $50 for a shot at that albino alligator” said Mr. Catoe.  Aquarium officials claim they have no plans to have any organized hunts since many of the animals are rare and very popular with visitors.

Organizers of the fishing tournament hope to have the event scheduled by the end of the month.  Aquarium officials plan to limit the fishing to just the Great Ocean Tank, a two story, 385,000 gallon saltwater “fishing hole”.  Proceeds of the tournament will benefit local conservation organizations, specifically ones that preserve nature so that people can kill more animals.  Further details will be available very soon.

Charleston Residents Furious with Hurricane Irene

Earlier this week, Hurricane Irene had Charleston in her sights. Local residents began planning their evacuation routes, checking their food supplies, and preparing for the worst. As of this morning, the National Hurricane Center predicts the eye of the storm will move up the coast to the Outerbanks, coastal Virginia, and eventually die out in the upper Eastern seaboard.  While 99.92% of Charleston residents are thrilled to be spared the wrath of Mother Nature, we found the .08% that were not so happy.

Frank Bucci, owner of Lowcountry Hurricane Repair, was banking on some help from Mother Nature this year.  His company had just bought a wet-dry vac, two mops, and a shovel in anticipation of Irene.  “All that money on new equipment and Irene is a no-go for Charleston.  Fingers crossed my other business, Lowcountry Snow Removal, has a good winter.” stated Mr. Bucci.

Bennett McAllister of Johns Island said, “When it comes to hurricanes, it’s all about the Benjamins (street term for $100 bills).  Ya see, I’m what you call a ‘Crisis Based Entrepreneur’.  This $170 chainsaw I bought yesterday would’ve sold for $600 next week, but Irene screwed me over.  I was gonna buy me a new plasma TV, rims for my ride, and an iPhone, but that ain’t gonna happen now. “

The Kilpatrick family of Ladson is upset because their current residence needs to be replaced and they were hoping Irene would help.  “Mamma K” responded, “Our home is old and tired and we had our dreams on one of those FEMA trailers but Irene decided to crush our dreams and go somewhere else.”

Mayor Thrilled with City Hall’s New Waterslide

Charleston’s acclaimed 19th century architect Gabriel Manigault  is credited with some of our most treasured historical buildings; the Joseph Manigault House, The William Blacklock House, and of course his crowning achievement, Charleston’s City Hall (circa 1801).  19th century architecture insiders are claiming that Gabriel Manigault would be very intrigued by the latest addition to his masterpiece, two 35 foot waterslides leading from the front stoop of City Hall down to Broad Street.

Joseph P. Riley, Charleston’s long standing mayor (since 1975), is considered by many to be responsible for countless local preservation efforts and as well as this Southern town’s ultimate visionary.  His recent vision obviously included a whimsical amusement ride that would help him beat the summer heat. 

We tried to catch up with Mayor Riley during yesterday’s inaugural launch of the new amusement, but he was too caught up in the moment to make a statement.  During his lunch break, the Mayor made 47 trips down the slide, undoubtedly having a wonderful time with his new recreational amenity.  Refusing to talk with reporters, all we could hear were the sounds of running water, shrieks of laughter, and the Mayor repeatedly shouting, “Weeeeeeee, just havin’ fun!!!”.

City Hall’s new amusement ride is currently available to only the Mayor but there are rumored discussions about opening it up to locals and visitors next summer.

“Weather Victim” sues Mother Nature

The Bulldog Buzz unveiled court documents regarding a recent lawsuit filed by a tourist against Mother Nature.  The visitor, Angie Martin of Franklin, TN, claims Mother Nature ruined her visit to Charleston.  Ms. Martin nor her attorney returned our phone calls.

Read the following “Plaintiff Statement” for further details regarding Ms. Martin’s charges:

Mother Nature’s spokesperson Bill Sharp, out of their Washington DC office, commented, “We are very sorry Ms. Martin was unhappy with her experience in Charleston.  We try to provide a variety of weather conditions but it’s impossible to please everybody all the time.  And FYI, tell the folks down there in ‘Our Favorite City” that there’s no need to sweat hurricane season this year.  With the economy in such bad shape, our storm budget is shot all to hell and we just don’t have the resources to make it happen this year.  We know how y’all love to throw those ‘Hurricane Parties’ but you’ll just have to come up with another reason for a social event this September.”

Courtroom Exhibit A – Photograph of the ‘Malicious Winds at Waterfront Park’

 

 

White Point Gardens Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart announced today that they have finally gained approval to build a Super Wal-Mart in the middle of Charleston’s famed historic White Point Gardens. Plans to build the 120,000 square foot location have been in the works for over two years and have battled several local preservation efforts that tried to block the rezoning of this historical landmark. Wal-Mart construction crews plan to start clearing the space no later than the end of this month. Wal-Mart’s “Historic Property Division” has worked tirelessly with City of Charleston planners to insure the massive commercial site blends in with the surrounding historic neighborhood as best possible. One example of their efforts is, instead of using 25,000 watt bulbs to light their building, they have agreed to only use 20,000 watt bulbs. “Classic case of a corporation working with a city for the good of the people.”, states Wal-Mart spokesperson Larry Kiley.

Frequent Charleston visitors, the Hinton family of Altus, OK, exclaimed, “How exciting, a place for us to use the restroom while buying sunscreen and postcards. After this thing is built, we’ll be able to do a little shopping in case we forgot something from home. Like last time, forgetting to bring umbrellas in case it rained during our ghost tour.” Tourists are not the only people excited about the new shopping giant coming to their neighborhood, 10 year old Benjamin Cooper of Gibbes Street said, “AWESOME!!! Now I don’t have to bug my nanny to drive me to the one on James Island to get more EPIC video games.”

However, not all residents share the excitement, South Battery resident Nancy Bush, while clutching her pearls, commented, “I will nevah, evah, evah, be caught in that store. My family is way too dignified to shop with the common folks.”

Note: Minutes later, “off the record”, Mrs. Bush said she’s actually very excited that it will be open 24 hours so she can sneak inside while her neighbors are asleep, or better yet, while all of Charleston’s high society are at a cocktail party. “How fascinating, the chance for a lady of my stature and social standing to get an inside look at how the rest of the world lives!”

The Charleston Preservation Foundation filed lawsuit last October but the case was recently thrown out of District Court. We tried to contact the Foundation for comment but their headquarters was locked with a note on the door reading, “We give up”. The Bulldog Buzz assumes the large white flag flying over the building was in reference to the super store approval.