Charleston History Trip

The Old Powder Magazine was purchased by a group of women interested in preservation in the early 1900’s and has served as a museum ever since.

We attended our second lecture there yesterday.  This lecture discusses the Charleston Renaissance.

The Old Powder Magazine is the oldest public building in the State. This one room structure whose vaulted ceiling is loaded with tons of sand is closed for tours on Wednesdays from 12 to 1. Creaky wooden chairs are set in two distinct sections flanking the presenter’s table which is angled in front of a corner. The central support forces this audience division. There is little room to maneuver in the small room and 50 people to accommodate. The folks which attend these lectures are mainly museum and tour guides.

We scanned the room trying to find seats with shorter people so our child-sized frames can see over and around easily. Settling in to the white chairs we discussed the past of Charleston – the War, reconstruction, earthquake, electricity, the Navy – to prepare us for the early 1900’s.

Our church, St. Michael's, after the earthquake

As the lecture began, Sue Bennett began to show photographs of the devastation of war and the earthquake. Charleston lies on a fault line known as the Woodstock fault, which geologists have determined was caused by a subterranean lava “bloom” that cracked tectonic plates millions of years ago. The adjusting layers caused a severe earthquake in Charleston on August 31, 1886. We aren’t California but we had a small spasm last year which rattled folks a bit.

AV found the most interesting point of discussion was the way people connected with others during this time period.  He related this example to DV at dinner:  A lady named Anita Politizer, a Jewish lady from Charleston, was denied entrance in to the male only College of Charleston.  She went to New York to study art.  While there she roomed with Georgia o’Keefe and promoted this shy logo designer. (The Morton Salt girl is her’s.)

JV found irony in council man Grace’s lack of support for the bridge that would later bear his name.

BR was fascinated by the story of Porgy and Bess from book to play to movie.  We

Mary Elizabeth Williams as Bess (from her site)

are on kind of a small Opera kick right now.  AV and JV went to see La Cenerenterolla two years ago (They spent two hours a couple of Sunday’s ago watching Live From the Met’s version and discussing the differences.) and LOVE, LOVE Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana. (For those in FL, one of the pieces is the Tower of Terror’s theme music in their ads.)  We are looking into seeing a local production of Pirates of Penzance.

I was most struck by the need for making things “the way they should be, look, act”.  This generation born in the rubble of the earthquake created a mythic vision of Charleston which has brought millions of tourists to our region.

We rounded out the trip by visiting two art galleries – The John Doyle Gallery and the Anne Worsham Richardson Birds I View Gallery


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Filed under AV, BR, Going outs (Field Trips), JV

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