Saturday, March 10, 2012

Charleston, continued

One of the best things about Charleston was its walkability, and we spent quite a bit of time, despite some downpours, walking around.  Most of the homes, while expensive, are privately owned and we could peek into their small but lovely gardens.  At left is the garden of the Nathaniel Russell House which is on the National Register of Historic Places and offers tours on the half hour.  It was elegant and airy.  There is an amazing three story circular staircase, "cantilevered" as our guide, Madame Jardine, noted.  I remember how each step supports the next from building a dollhouse some years ago.

After the tour, we had to buy an umbrella and stay in the gift shop to wait for the rain to stop.  Unfortunately, it started pouring almost as soon as we left, but the next day we were able to take a picture of the outside.  Further along Meeting St. toward the Battery and White Point Gardens is the Calhoun Mansion, built by an ancestor of John C.  It has been furnished in the Victorian style, unfortunately, and is oppressively overstuffed with collections, "artwork," and excess.  Our guide told us that it is privately owned by people who live there about 10% of the time.  They use the many items on the dining room table, except the blue glass finger bowls.  They are clearly among the 1%.   There was a large but rather poorly painted portrait of a lady in the dining room which the guide said was painted by "Marie Cazog."  I was relieved that she had not mispronounced "Mary Cassatt," one of my favorites from the Shelburne Museum.

About a mile up Meeting St. from the Battery is the Charleston Museum which we enjoyed.  There was a collection of botanical quilts and historic clothing, as well as a good display of artifcats from early Charleston.  Videos discussed the cultivation of rice in the area which the slaves brought knowledge of from Africa.  The Civil War was also covered sensitively.   We wished we had visited the museum before our last day, but when we went earlier in the week the building was full of school tours.  There was a food and wine festival going on in Marion Park, named for Revolutionary War hero "Swamp Fox" Francis Marion.
Across the street from the museum is another house in the Federalist style, the Joseph Manigault House, designed by Gabriel Manigault, an amateur architect responsible for several Charleston homes.  This shows the back of the house from the garden which also featured a cute temple gate.  The original colors inside were soothing with the walls a light turquoise and woodwork painted gray.  The house also had a circular staircase in its front hall.  It was a nice end to our trip to Charleston.

No comments: