Sandlapper Society

Interesting Places

Fort Sumter

At Fort Moultrie, the first American victory over the British Navy in 1776 galvanized the patriots' cause for independence. Less than a century later, America's most tragic conflict ignited with the first shots of the Civil War at Fort Sumter. Construction of the fort, named for the American Revolutionary War general Thomas Sumter, began in 1829 and was still in progress in 1861.
it was incomplete and its 60 guns pointed out to sea, but it assumed critical value as a symbol of national union. When President Abraham Lincoln took office in March, he was faced with the Confederate demand for evacuation of the fort, which was threatened by other fortifications erected by South Carolina in the harbor area. Lincoln had either to attempt resupplying the fort, then in danger of being starved out, or to abandon it and accede to disunion. The president determined to prepare relief expeditions to both forts, but, before the arrival of supplies, Confederate authorities demanded Fort Sumter's immediate evacuation. When this was refused, the South's batteries opened fire at 4:30 AM on April 12, and Anderson was forced to surrender after 34 hours of shelling. On April 14 Fort Sumter was evacuated by federal troops, who marched out waving the American flag to a gun salute; on the 50th round of a 100-gun salute, an explosion occurred, causing the only death of the engagement. The shelling of U.S. property aroused and united the North. During the war the Confederates manning the fort withstood almost constant bombardment from July 1863 to February 1865. The fort itself was largely reduced to rubble. Today’s Fort Sumter Monument preserves the ruins of Fort Sumter, which was later partly rebuilt and modified.

Peachtree Rock

Located in Lexington County, Peachtree Rock Heritage Reserve harbors the largest sandstone outcrops in the state, the only waterfall in the coastal plain, a swamp tupelo-evergreen shrub bog and a longleaf pine ecosystem. It is located in a valley at the headwaters of Hunt Branch which feeds into Second Creek and then the Congaree River. The geology of Peachtree Rock is significant because of the unusual sandstone formations and abundance of fossil evidence. The formations originated when oceans washed over the area leaving marine fossils, beach-like sand and intertidal deposits.

Angel Oak

Reportedly the oldest thing -- living or man-made -- east of the Rockies, Angel Oak is a live oak tree aged approximately 1,500 years. Some locals simply call it The Tree. It stands in a wooded area along Bohicket Road on John's Island outside Charleston. Towering over 65 feet high, the Angel Oak would have sprouted 1000 years before Columbus arrived in the New World. Recorded history traces the ownership of the live oak and surrounding land, back to the year 1717 when Abraham Waight received it as part of a small land grant. The tree stayed in the Waight family for four generations, and was part of a Marriage Settlement to Justus Angel and Martha Waight Tucker Angel. In modern times, the Angel Oak has become the focal point of a public park. Today the live oak has a diameter of spread reaching 160 feet, a circumference of nearly 25 feet, and covers 17,100 square feet of ground.

The Battery

One of the best spots to get to know Charleston, South Carolina is Battery Park. This lovely spot on the waterfront features southern mansions, cannons, cannon balls, oak trees, palmettos, statues, a gazebo, and incredible views of Fort Sumter, Castle Pinckney, and the Sullivan Island Lighthouse. Battery Park is also known as White Point Gardens. White Point gets its name from the piles of bleached oyster shells. This point was occupied by Fort Broughton and Fort Wilkins during the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. In fact, the cannons were placed in the Battery in response to the War of 1812 intended to defend Charleston as a last defense. In addition to the wartime history of the Battery, White Point has a history of pirates. Dozens of pirates were hanged from oak trees and gallows in the early 1700s and left dangling from their nooses for days as a deterrent to prevent other pirates from entering Charleston Harbor.

The State House

South Carolina’s first State House was located in Charleston. As settlements grew farther inland, a number of South Carolinians began a campaign to move the State House to a more central location. In 1786, land along the Congaree River was chosen as the new capital city, Columbia. The second State House and the first in Columbia was completed in 1794. Constructed of wood, it was totally inadequate. Construction on a much sturdier State House began in 1854 and the building was nearing completion after nearly six years of construction. The outer walls had reached a height of 65 feet and 9 inches and were almost complete. But the Civil War erupted in 1861 bringing construction to a halt. In 1865 General Sherman’s Union troops burned Columbia and the State House went up in flames. Years of poverty and reconstruction meant South Carolina’s State House was now completed until 1907. The structure we see today took more than 50 years to complete.  From 1995 – 1998, the State House was renovated to make it earthquake proof. Large metal stars on the building’s exterior mark the spots where Union cannonballs struck the Capitol during the Civil War.

Drayton Hall

Built between 1738 and 1742, Drayton Hall, on the banks of Charleston’s Ashley River, has been called the finest example of Georgian-Palladian architecture in the United States. Virtually unchanged through the centuries, Drayton Hall has survived the American Revolution, the Civil War, Reconstruction, the great earthquake of 1886 and modern urban sprawl. It has served as a rice plantation, phosphate strip mine and country residence. It’s grounds represent one of the most significant undisturbed historic landscapes in America. Purchased from the Drayton family in 1974 by the National Trust for Historic Places, Drayton Hall is the only surviving plantation open to the public on the Ashley River.

Dock Street Theatre

Originally constructed in 1735, Charleston‘s Dock Street Theatre holds the distinct honor of being the first building in America designed exclusively for theatrical performances. The original theater was located on the corner of Church and Dock Streets and opened on February 12, 1736 with a performance of George Farquhar’s The Recruiting Officer. The theater continued to host theatrical and musical performances, but was destroyed just four years later in The Great Fire of 1740. The majority of the present-day structure, located at 135 Church Street, was completed in 1809 when the remains of the theater into the Planters Hotel. The hotel was remodeled in 1835 and received several additions, including the wrought iron balcony and sandstone columns that make up its present facade. At the time it was one of the most prominent buildings in Charleston. After the Civil War the hotel was abandoned and eventually fell into disrepair. It wasn’t until the mid-1930s that the City of Charleston and the Works Progress Administration restored the facade to its original appearance and recreated the theater inside. What once served as the hotel’s dining room would now be the theater’s box office lobby. Modeled after those found in 18th century London playhouses, the new auditorium was constructed in the hotel’s old courtyard and featured hand-carved Cypress woodwork from local carpenters. By 1937 the restoration was complete and the Dock Street Theatre reopened on November 26th with a reprise of The Recruiting Officer.

Fort Moultrie

The first fort on Sullivan's Island was still incomplete when  Commodore Sir Peter Parker and nine British warships attacked it on June 28, 1776. After a nine-hour battle, the ships were forced to retire, thus giving America its first naval victory of the American Revolution. The British cannonballs were totally ineffective against the fort’s palmetto log walls. Charleston was saved from British occupation, and the fort was named in honor of its commander, Colonel. William Moultrie. In 1780 the British finally captured Charleston, abandoning it only on the advent of peace. After the Revolution, Fort Moultrie was neglected, and by 1791 little of it remained. Then, in 1793, war broke out between England and France. The next year Congress, seeking to safeguard American shores, authorized the first system of nationwide coastal fortifications. A second Fort Moultrie, one of 20 new forts along the Atlantic coast, was completed in 1798. It too suffered from neglect and was finally destroyed by a hurricane in 1804. By 1807 many of the other First System fortifications were in need of extensive repair. Congress responded by authorizing funds for a Second System, which included a third Fort Moultrie. By 1809 a new brick fort stood on Sullivan's Island. Today Fort Moultrie has been restored to portray the major periods of its history. A visitor to the fort moves steadily backwards in time from the World War II Harbor Entrance Control Post to the site of the Palmetto-log fort of 1776. The South Carolina state flag bears the palmetto tree in honor of the victory over the British at Ft. Moultrie.

Back to the top