Charleston’s rich heritage makes it the perfect tourist destination for anyone interested in history or architecture. Over the years many different people and events have shaped the city into what it is today. Architecture is an important and misunderstood part of a city’s history and the buildings that make up this town each has their own individual stories and character. There are quite a few buildings in Charleston that are worth visiting, but some of the most important historic buildings are the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon, Fort Sumter, and Saint Michael’s Episcopal Church.
The Old Exchange Building is a colonial building located at the intersection of Broad Street and East Bay Street. It was built in 1767 and has been used for a number of civic functions over the years. It has been a post office, customs house, market, and – during the revolutionary war – jail. The State of SC ratified the Constitution in the Old Exchange building in 1788 and the dungeon was used during the British siege to hold Revolutionary Prisoner of Wars and later was used to hold pirates including Stede Bonnet and Blackbeard. We have got a tour that takes you into this creepy dungeon, where you will learn more about the history and experience the creepy chills too, come take our Ghost and Dungeon Walking Tour!
Fort Sumter is a sea fort in the Charleston Harbor and is famously known as the site where the Civil War began. The fort was built in 1829 and was a part of a new coastal defense system designated by congress after the war of 1812. The first shots of the Civil War were fired in April of 1861 and the battle of Fort Sumter lasted for two days before Union forces surrendered. Fort Sumter is currently a National Monument maintained and preserved by the National Parks Service.
St. Michael’s church is located at the intersection of Meeting and Broad Street and is the oldest church edifice in the city of Charleston. The church was built sometime between 1752 and 1761. Prominent and elegant, St. Michael’s is a fine example of the pre-revolutionary English architecture known as Gregorian style. The building has been preserved and is true to its original design. The pews inside, including the one used by George Washington in 1791, have recently been restored as well. The bells of St. Michael’s are one of the city’s greatest treasures and were imported from England in 1764.
The Old Exchange and Provost Building is open every day from 9-5 and they offer hour-long tours through the building. Fort Sumter is only accessible by boat but Fort Sumter Tours offer boat tours to the island daily pursuant to weather. St. Michaels is a privately owned church and as such does not have definite hours to walk through, however, if their doors are open that means they are welcoming the public to their facility. There is no bad time to tour through each location, though July and August can be very busy in the city. If you want to avoid the heat of the summer, get out early. Luckily most of the indoor attractions in Charleston are air-conditioned!
If you have a disability, make sure to check with an employee before entering any attraction to ensure it is handicap accessible. The Old Exchange Building does have an elevator and a ramp, but sites like Fort Sumter could more difficult for those who are unable to walk for long periods of time may be a bit more difficult. Charleston is a welcoming city for the young and young at heart with historic buildings around every corner. Come take a Charleston History Tour and experience history for yourself!