Top 5 Historic Sites in South Carolina

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South Carolina is not only rich in entertainment and beaches, but it is also rich in history. One of the first colonies were established in South Carolina, and many battles were fought on the lands from the American Revolution and Civil War. Here are some of the 5 historic sites that helped shape South Carolina’s history.

Fort Sumter – Charleston, SC

Fort Sumter might sound familiar, especially where the Civil War is concerned. Originally an island fortification in Charleston Harbor, it was constructed in 1829 as a coastal garrison. It is most famous for its part in the Civil War. Fort Sumter has been known for the first shots of the Civil War.

After the secession of South Carolina from the Union, Major Robert Anderson occupied the fort until Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard took siege of it on April 13, 1961. He occupied the fort through the entirety of the Civil War, even after the second battle of Fort Sumter in September of 1963 when the Union soldiers reduced the fort into rubble. After 4 years of occupying the fort, the Confederates abandoned it in February of 1865.

After the Civil War, the fort was restored by the military and manned during the Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War II. In 1966, it was put on the list for National Register of Historic Places.

Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon – Charleston, SC

The Old Exchange and Provost has seen a lot of history that has happened in Charleston. From commercial exchange, a custom house, post office, city hall, military headquarters, and museum. Completed in 1771, the Old Exchange is now a landmark because of its many historical events.

The history of the Provost Dungeon starts with the American Revolution. British soldiers converted the bottom floor of the Old Exchange into a military prison for American prisoners of war, British soldiers, private citizens, and enslaved people, putting them in the basements harsh confines.

In 1788, it had a more positive historical vision as one of the debates over the approved constitution took place in the main area. It is one of the four remaining historical building where the US Constitution was ratified.

During George Washington’s tour in 1791, Washington was entertained at the Exchange with dinners, concerts, and dances.

Between the American Revolution and the Civil War, it became Charleston’s most common destination for public slave auctions until the victory of the Union in the Civil War.

On display for the public to see, you can also see the only standing portion of the original Charles Town city wall known as the Half-Moon Battery.

Ninety-Six National Historic Site – Greenwood County, SC

The Ninety-Six National Historic Site has a unique story and significance in South Carolina. It got its name from the Charleston traders in the early 1700s because they believe it was the estimated remaining number of miles from the location to the Cherokee village “Keowee” in the upper South Carolina foothills.

In the mid-1700s, European colonists found it a great place to settle, but during its early years, trouble with local Indians increased. The Cherokees attacked Fort Ninety-Six twice, the fort which was built to protect the settlers. By the 1770s, thought, the Ninety-Six village reached its peak with a growing population, 12 houses, taverns, and shops, along with a newly constructed courthouse and jail.

In the Revolutionary War, it became a strategic location. The first land battle south of New England was fought in 1775. From May to June of 1781, Major General Nathanael Greene staged the longest field siege of the Revolutionary war against loyalists defending Ninety-Six. The Fort remains one of the best-preserved examples of an original fortification of the 18th century.

Dock Street Theatre – Charleston, SC

Dock Street Theatre was the first American theatre. The grand opening premiered The Recruiting Officer on February 12, 1736. It was the first building in America that was built exclusively for theatrical performances, as well as being the location of the first opera performance.

The original structure no longer stands, potentially destroyed in the Great Fire of 1740 which destroyed many buildings in the Charleston French Quarter. In 1809, the Planter’s Hotel was built on the site where many notable people worked and patronized the hotel: Junius Brutus Booth (John Wilkes Booth’s father), Robert Smalls (African American Civil War hero).

After much rebuilding after years of abandonment, they reopened the structure for the second grand opening of the Dock Street Theatre in 1937. After a 3-year and $19 million renovation, the third grand opening occurred back in 2010.

Magnolia Plantation

The Magnolia Plantation has a rich, colorful, and deep history rooted in the colonization of Thomas Drayton. Him and his wife arrived in the New English colony of Charles Towne from Barbados and established the plantation in 1676. Since then, there has been a direct line of Magnolia family ownership in the 300+ years and continues into this day.

Through the cultivation of rice during the Colonial area, the Magnolia Plantation saw wealth and growth. While the early gardens of the Magnolia plantation would see an explosion of beauty up until the 18th century, it wouldn’t be until the early 19th century that the gardens truly began to expand to what they’re known for today.

After a strange turn of events, John Grimke Drayton inherited his family’s plantation at the young age of 22. Inspired by his wife, he dedicated much of his time making the garden what it is today. He took a great emphasis on embellishing the soft, natural beauty on the site. He introduced the first azaleas in America and was among the first to utilize the Camellia Japonica in an outdoor setting. Surprisingly, a great deal of the garden is based off these two species rather than the southern Magnolia which the plantation is named after.

While the outbreak of the Civil War threatened the welfare of the home and the garden, it would continue to see growth even after it opened to the public in 1870. Now, over centuries later, the house is still in the family line and just as beautiful as ever.

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