September 6, 2013

The Lowcountry

As our road trip to Myrtle Beach continued, we made a one-night pit stop in Charleston, SC. I've only seen pictures of this spot before, and they definitely don't do it justice. The South Carolina lowcountry is renowned for its historic cities, natural beauty and unique cultural heritage. This perfect combination makes it a tourists' paradise. 

A little bit of history for you: Founded and settled by English colonists in 1670, Charleston grew from a colonial seaport to a wealthy city by the mid 18th century.  In April 1861, Confederate soldiers fired on Union-occupied Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, signalling the beginning of the Civial War.  Charleston was slow to recover from the devastation of the war, however, its pace of recovery became the foundation of the City's greatest asset, the vast inventory of historically significant architecture. 

And now, some pretty pictures:

Before we left the Charleston area, we stopped at Middleton Place, a carefully preserved 18th century rice plantation and home of America's oldest landscaped Gardens. It was like stepping back in time. Established in the late 17th century by Henry Middldeton, who was the first president of Continental Congress, it has been in the same family for 320 years and is now a National Historic Landmark. 

At one time, there were three building comprising the residence of the Middletons, however, on February 22, 1865, the other 2/3s was burned by the Union soldiers. What is left is referred to as the "gentlemans' quarters", built for men who traveled in to visit the Middletons. 

As we made our way up the drive, we noticed sheep mowing the lawn.  Animals, you say? I was sold even before I stepped foot out of the car. And the animals didn't stop there - there were peacocks, cats, goats, pigs, cows, horses and chickens! Yep, I was in heaven.  If I could have a hobby farm wish list, those animals would be it. (Minus the peacocks. The boys are beautiful, but they scare me.)

The grounds were absolutely immaculate, complete with centuries old magnolia and oak trees dripping with spanish moss and alligators keeping guard in the ponds.

One of the most intriguing buildings to us was Eliza's house.  This two-family duplex was once occupied by former Middleton slaves and was filled with history.  It is known as "Eliza's House" in memory of Eliza Leach, a South Carolina African American born in 1891, and the last person to live in the building. She died in 1986, at age 94, after working over 40 years at Middleton Place.

Charleston's southern charm hooked me in, and I would definitely go back.

Have you ever been to Charleston, SC? What was your favorite part?

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