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Category: Historic Charleston

5 new Charleston restaurants, Spring 2017

new charleston restaurants

Photo Credit: Instagram User @sorghumsalt

With Charleston being a foodie destination with a reputation that gets glossier with every new restaurant opening, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with what to try next. We’ve taken the liberty of sifting through all the new restaurants in Charleston this spring and compiling a list of those serving up grub worth your dough.

Sorghum & Salt, 186 Coming Street Downtown

Sorghum & Salt opened in April, and this spot has already racked up a reputation among locals – not bad for a restaurant in its infancy.The menu changes, but as of now you can stop in and choose from their Garden and Grains, Meat and Fish, or Larger Plates menus, all of which are reasonably priced. We can’t vouch for everything, but you can rest assured that the Collard Green Tagliatelle with Shrimp Sausage – Calabrian Chili – Collards and Bread Crumbs — phew, that’s a mouthful, in more ways than one — is a meal to remember.

new charleston restaurants

Photo Credit: Instagram User @rodneyscottsbbq

Rodney Scott’s BBQ, 1011 King Street Downtown

If you haven’t been here yet, you’re doing yourself no favors. Scott’s slow-pulled pork, chicken, and ribs alone will make you moan (that reaction is actually their claim to fame) but you have to also try the fried catfish sandwich — not to mention the fixings. Take your pick of fresh-cut fries, cornbread, hushpuppies, cole slaw, potato salad, baked beans, mac ‘n’ cheese, greens, perlo rice, and, yes, of course, grits.

Benny Ravello’s, 520 King Street Downtown

Love the Mt. Pleasant Benny Palmetto’s? Then you’ll also dig the new downtown sister restaurant Benny Ravello’s, which hit King Street in mid-April. Serving up slices bigger than your hand, Benny’s is in the former George Loan Co. pawn shop and has been operating off the same menu as its predecessor — except this time no beer and wine. But you’ll forget all about your thirst for alcohol once you get a taste of some of the best pie in town.

new charleston restaurants

Photo Credit: Instagram User @workshopchs

Workshop Charleston, 1503 King Street Downtown

The hottest of hot spots right now is Workshop — an upscale food court that, after less than a month in business, is the talk of the town already. Workshop boasts minimalist decor and maximum flavor. Choose food from Pink Bellies (featuring Thai Phi’s Animal Style Burger), JD Loves Cheese (coming to you from Cynthia Wong, the baker over at Butcher & Bee), or Kite Noodles (Korean food from Jonathan Ory). John Lewis of Lewis BBQ has also taken up residence with his Tex/Mex concept called Juan Luis. There’s also pizza by Slice Co. and Bad Wolf Coffee (also from Ory). The food court seats 100, so grab a seat soon to test the waters for yourself.

Martha Lou’s No. 2, 2000-Q McMillan Ave North Charleston

Morrison Street’s soul food institution Martha Lou’s has long been a favorite among locals, but a mention by the New York Times in 2011 gave the restaurant an extra, and welcomed, boost. In April, the 87-year-old proprietor opened a second locale in North Charleston, officially called Martha Lou’s No. 2 Love and Happiness Catering, where they’re serving all the faves — fried chicken, mac ‘n’ cheese, green beans — every day of the week.

What new Charleston restaurant has caught your attention?

An Insider’s Guide to Spoleto: One of The Country’s Top Performing Arts Festivals

Spoleto

Photo Credit: Instagram User @spoletofestivalusa

Each spring, thousands visit the city of Charleston to partake in the Spoleto Festival USA, one of America’s biggest performing arts festivals. For 17 days and nights, this festival delights the Holy City with the best artistic performances with more than 150 performers from around the world.

Opera, theater, dance, jazz—the Spoleto Festival USA has it all, and the lineup is more diverse than ever in its 41st year. From highly-anticipated fan favorites to up-and-coming productions, this year promises to be even better than the last, which is incredible, considering that last year’s sales were record-breaking.

If you plan to attend this year’s festivities, then understanding the full vision of the event is essential. Spoleto’s rich history and dedication to the arts are inspiring and allow you to fully appreciate the talented performances that come to town every year.

In this insider’s guide, we will give you the scoop on the history of the Spoleto Festival USA and highlight some of the must-see premieres this year. Whether you are a Charleston local or an out-of-town attendee, consider this your go-to guide for festival this year.

The History of Spoleto Festival USA

Since 1977, the Spoleto Festival USA has been captivating audiences in Charleston and enriching an already vibrant community. First founded by Pulitzer-winning composer Gian Carlo Menotti, the three-week event was originally intended to be an American counterpart to the Festival of Two Worlds in the small town of Spoleto, Italy.

SpoletoWhy Charleston?

The founders wanted a city that would mimic the small-town charm of Spoleto, Italy, while also providing enough theaters and accommodations to host the festival. They found their ideal location in Charleston, a city that is known for its picturesque neighborhoods and historic charm.

The Holy City’s abundance of churches, theaters, and early dedication to the performing arts made it the perfect setting for the festival. In addition, the city’s vibrant community and small-town atmosphere were similar to the small Italian town, which further cemented the founder’s decision to make Charleston the home of the festival.

The Mission of the Spoleto Festival

Since its beginning in 1977, the Spoleto Festival has been committed to showcasing only the best artistic performances and supporting young artists, helping them foster their passion for the arts in all forms. It also brings a significant impact on Charleston’s economy and regularly invests in both local businesses and the community.

Dedication to Young Artists

Spoleto has supported young artists since its inception and encourages them to pair up with more experienced performers so that they can learn new skills. The festival offers many exciting opportunities for blossoming artists to advance their careers, including auditioning for the seat in the Spoleto Festival Orchestra or the Westminster Choir.

Giving Back to the Local Community

Spoleto’s mission also gives back to the city that it has called home for over 40 years. Though the event brings international fame and economic success, the festival also directly invests in the local community.

Spoleto has not only played a key role in preserving historical landmarks, such as the Dock Street Theatre and the Middleton-Pinckney House, but it also continues to educate the local community through programs that help inspire a deeper appreciation for the performing arts.  Most notably, their Open Stage Door program distributes complimentary tickets to community-based organizations so that they may be part of the Spoleto experience.

Spoleto

photo courtesy of instagram user @spoletofestivalusa

Historical Charleston Theatres, Churches, and Event Spaces

Charleston boasts many elegant theatres and churches that serve as the venues for the 17-day festival. These prominent event spaces not only provide the lowcountry with a place to view world-class performances but, also offer a glimpse into the history of Charleston.

Here is a list of beloved Spoleto venues and some notable performances taking place around town.

Charleston Gaillard Center

The recently renovated Charleston Gaillard Center will once again host Spoleto’s featured opera this year, an extravagant production of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. Dates for the performance are May 26 and June 1, 4, 8.

The Gaillard Center will also present the Westminster Choir, Charleston Symphony Orchestra Chorus, and the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra’s performance of Mozart’s Great Mass.

Last, don’t miss a special, one-night-only performance by American roots musician Rhiannon Giddens on June 9th at Gaillard Center!

Cathedral Church of St. Luke and St. Paul

Conducted by Joe Miller, the Westminster Choir performs at the Cathedral Church of St. Luke and St. Paul. This fan favorite is considered one of the most-loved traditions of the festival.

College of Charleston Cistern Yard

Performances at the College of Charleston Cistern Yard this year include Terrance Blanchard, featuring the E-Collective, on June 3rd for a one-night only performance. Multi-Grammy winner Terry Blanchard and the E-Collective create a perfect ensemble that combines jazz, funk, rock, R&B, and blues music.

Spoleto

Photo Credit: Instagram User @spoletofestivalusa

College of Charleston Sottile Theatre

Israeli dance company L-E-V, is set to perform OCD Love at the College of Charleston Sottile Theatre on June 2, 3, and 4. Led by choreographers Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar, the production explores love through the lens of obsessive compulsive disorders.

Monchichi, the duet that blends hip-hop with contemporary dance, will also be performing at Sottile Theatre on May 26-28.

Dock Street Theatre

The historic Dock Street Theatre will host the Druid production of Waiting for Godot, which begins on May 25. It will also host the American premiere of Antonio Vivaldi’s opera Farnace, which begins May 27.

Spoleto

photo courtesy of instagram user @spoletofestivalusa

Notable Premieres and Fan Favorites

From the very beginning, Spoleto has encouraged artists from all backgrounds and ages to participate and explore their creativity to its fullest. As a result, each year brings a remarkably diverse lineup that relies on both traditional and contemporary performances to delight audiences.

Notable Premieres

Those who attend Spoleto regularly will recognize a few reoccurring performances, but there is always excitement surrounding new premieres. If you are attending the event this year, here are the anticipated performances premiering at Spoleto:

Ayodele Casel

New York tapper Ayodele Casel’s world premiere, While I Have the Floor, explores identity, language, communication, and artistic legacy. Casel will also be participating in the popular “Conversations With” program, an intimate conversation with participating artists who open up about their creative processes and the experience at Spoleto.

Cinema and Sound

Fans will welcome back acclaimed pianist Stephen Prutsman, who performs the original scores for the world premiere of Cinema and Sound. The program blends silent film and a live soundtrack for a particularly innovative performance at the Woolfe Street Playhouse.

Farnace

The U.S. premiere of Antonio Vivaldi’s most popular 18th-century opera, Farnace, is a highly-anticipated performance this year. Produced by Garry Hynes, the mythical Roman war drama will star Anthony Roth Costanzo, a legendary countertenor.

Quartett

An opera full of dark comedy and seduction, the U.S. premiere of Royal Opera House’s Quartett will be sure to captivate audiences. Composed by Luca Francesconi, conducted by John Kennedy, and directed by John Fulljames, you won’t want to miss this performance at the Memminger Auditorium.

Fan Favorites

Over the years, many regular attendees of Spoleto have their favorites events that they look forward to attending every year. Last year’s Porgy and Bess was an enormous hit in Charleston and was a signature performance of the 40th anniversary of Spoleto.

Performances aside, there are also activities and events that Spoleto fans love to attend. Here are other favorites that will please all ages and backgrounds:

Conversations With

The “Conversation With” program gives audiences a chance to hear from the visiting artists and get an inside glimpse into their creative thought processes. The artists will be interviewed by CBS correspondent Martha Teichner, and each presentation lasts for approximately an hour. Fans will get to hear from their favorite artists, including director Garry Hynes and pianist Stephen Prutsman.

The sessions are free as long as attendees register in advance.

Master Classes

Fans of Spoleto not only get to watch artistic performances, but they can join in themselves.  With the “Master Classes” program, the performing artists teach both experienced and beginners dancers the art of their craft.

This year’s classes are being led by Company Wang Ramirez, L-E-V, Company Class with Gallim Dance, and Hillel Kogan. Get tickets while you can!

Jazz Talks

Held in the Simons Center Recital Hall at College of Charleston, Jazz Talks gives audiences the chance to listen to an intimate conversation between notable jazz musicians. This year’s discussions will include the following:

Fud at 100: A Centennial Celebration:  Charleston mayor John Tecklenburg discusses the legacy of his great-uncle Joseph “Fud” Livingston alongside historian Karen Chandler and music critic Larry Blumenfeld on May 28.

Trumpeting Truth – A Conversation with Terence Blanchard: Larry Blumenfeld will return to discuss arts, advocacy, and social justice issues with Grammy-winning trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard.

These events are free if you register in advance.

Spoleto Finale at Middleton Place

Of course, no one should miss Spoleto’s grand finale across the Ashley River at the historic Middleton Place. Attendants will get access to the full lineup of local and regional bands, headlined by breakout band The Revivalists. Additionally, ticket holders will also get to explore the beautiful gardens and refined lodgings of one of Charleston’s treasured National Historic Landmarks.

Spoleto

The Piccolo Spoleto Festival

Charleston’s existing dedication to the performing arts is one of the reasons why Spoleto Festival USA founders chose the city to host this yearly event. It isn’t surprising, then, that the Piccolo Spoleto was created to offer even more cultural opportunities.

What Is Piccolo Spoleto?

In 1979, Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr. launched the Piccolo Spoleto Festival to highlight Charleston’s local performing artists. While the main venues feature artists on a national and international level, this series gives attention to regional, less known artists. Plus, most of the events are free and family-friendly!

The festival runs concurrently with its parent event, which means that everyone can easily fit some of these popular Piccolo events into their schedule.

Piccolo Fringe

Are you in the mood for some improv? This comedy extravaganza is held each year at Theatre 99 on Meeting Street and features top comedic artists with original performances. Although most Piccolo events are family-friendly, this one is more suited toward adults.

Piccolo Fiction Spotlight

Are you a fan of the written word? The Piccolo Fiction Spotlight invites South Carolina writers to submit their brief short stories for a chance to be published in the Charleston City Paper, broadcast on S.C. Public Radio, and be read in the historic Charleston Music Hall.

The Spotlight Concert Series

The 13-performance program features classical arrangements by The Charleston Renaissance Ensemble, Chamber Music Charleston, and the Charleston Piano Trio with violist Miles Hoffman.

The Sundown Poetry Series

One of the oldest Piccolo Festival series, the Sundown Poetry Series offers local and regional poets the opportunity to gather for free evening readings. After the readings, many authors stay for a Q & A sessions to discuss their work. This event traditionally takes place at Dock Street Courtyard on Church Street.

Ready for Spoleto Festival USA?

If you happen to be in Charleston during the festival, then you should definitely explore some of the amazing artistic performances happening in the Holy City this spring. With over 160 ticketed events, there is something for everyone at Spoleto to enjoy.

Places to Grab a Cup of Coffee in Charleston

Coffee — for most of us it’s an everyday necessity, so where can you find the best cup of coffee in Charleston? Whether you need the perfect place for meeting with your real estate agent, need caffeine on the go, a place to plug in your laptop, or a quiet corner for reading, Charleston’s variety of local coffee houses has you covered — and caffeinated! Here are a few of our favorite neighborhood spots.

Collective Coffee, Mount Pleasant

Coffee in Charleston, Collective Coffee Co

Photo Credit: Instagram User @collectivecoffeeco

This upscale, hipster coffee shop is pretty cool indeed with its loft-like, airy space and tasty breakfast (pimento cheese biscuit is life-changing) and snack (avocado toast) items. We love the friendly service here at Collective Coffee along with the ample outdoor seating, community table, comfy corner seating, and plentiful parking, assuring that you and whoever you’re meeting up with will have plenty of places to perch your coffee cups and your cars. Not the cheapest place but they do take pride in preparing your lattes, we can assure you. They’re delicious. The wifi is free, and laptops are welcome here.

Orange Spot, Park Circle North Charleston

For the most adorable coffee experience, head to Park Circle. Orange Spot is nestled in a cute little house and consists of two rooms with plenty of tables, power outlets, cushioned seats, and sunlight. A spacious backyard patio means they can put on events, like mini markets and art openings, since they line their walls with local art. Wifi? Yep, and it’s free. Pro tip: get the the Cha Yen.

Classic Coffee, Avondale, West Ashley

Coffee in Charleston, Classic Coffee Avondale

Photo Credit: Instagram User @classiccoffeecharleston

Avondale residents love strolling on foot over to Classic Coffee for their caffeine fix, and it’s perfect for all kinds of situations. There are couches that make for cozy book-reading nooks, plus outdoor tables, a bar with bar stools, and several inside tables for all your meeting-up purposes. We also love their quiches, which come from nearby Wildflour Pastry, in-house roasted coffee, and fruit smoothies. Parking is a pain at times, though, be ye warned.

Normandy Farm, South Windermere, West Ashley

If you really want to feel fancy and French when you hit the coffee shop, make Normandy your new favorite. Visions and smells of fresh-baked breads, tarts, cakes, pies, and more will have you drooling, but the prices will make you stop in your tracks. Normandy, a light-filled space, is the most affordable coffee shop in Charleston — its pour-it-yourself in-house roasted coffee is only a buck-fifty. The only downside of this place is that the bathrooms are in the back, meaning you have to walk through the kitchen to get there. If you’re having lots of coffee, this can make you feel a bit self-conscious, but, really, they don’t mind at all. Oh and there’s free wifi.

 Kudu Coffee and Craft Beer

Coffee in Charleston, Kudu Coffee

Photo Credit: Instagram User @kuduchs

Kudu discourages folks from working on computers by denying guests their wifi password. So save Kudu for those days when you want to meet up with people (friends or clients) or you simply want to sit in their lovely courtyard and enjoy a book al fresco style. They serve coffee by the cafetiere and have a slew of great local craft beer selections. Kudu is also perfect for downtowndwellers; otherwise you’ll be circling the block in search of parking for an eternity.

Starbucks, Multiple Locations

  1. Starbucks gets a lot of slack for being corporate, and while supporting local is always best, Starbucks isn’t so bad. They treat their employees pretty wonderfully actually, offering benefits to even part-timers. In West Ashley and Mt Pleasant you’ll find Starbucks with drive-thru windows, which is key for busy moms who can’t just unbuckle all three kids and run in and grab a quick coffee. (There is no such thing as a quick coffee when you’re a mom, unless there’s a drive-through!). Plus if you need to do some work on your laptop, at Starbucks you’ll find all you need for that: plenty of outlets, free wifi, lots of two-top tables and community tables. Starbucks is literally made for all of you laptop workers — be it freelancers or students.  AND most locations stay open until 9 p.m., while most other places shut down much earlier (5 or 6 p.m.).


What’s your favorite local coffee shop?

An Insider’s Guide to Exploring Downtown Charleston’s Historic Churches

Charleston's Historic Churches

If there is one thing that Charleston, South Carolina offers in spades, it’s their beautiful and historic churches.  Commonly referred to as the “Holy City”, Charleston features some of the oldest churches in the United States, attracting millions of tourists each year who wish to see the gorgeous steeples that dominate its skyline.

The beautiful architecture of these churches is just one of many reasons why people choose to visit and reside in Historic Charleston.  The rich stories behind them is equally as captivating, and each of these historic churches has a unique story to tell.  

If you plan on visiting or relocating to the Holy City, the stately churches are a must-see.  With this insider’s guide, you can explore Charleston’s most significant churches and learn about the history that has shaped the city’s culture to this day.

Charleston’s Downtown Historic Churches

photo credit: instagram user @lilliedorothea

Why Charleston is Known as the Holy City

Charleston was dubbed the “Holy City” not because it was particularly devout.  Rather, the moniker stems from the city’s reputation for practicing religious tolerance—a rarity among the original 13 colonies.  

The history of religious freedom traces back to when Charleston was first settled and efforts to craft a constitution began.

Founding and Settlement of Charleston

In 1663, King Charles II gave the Carolina Territory to eight loyalists, who were known as the Lords Proprietors of Carolina.  After a few failed attempts at settling the area, the Lords finally managed to settle Charles Town (later to become Charleston) at Albemarle Point in 1670.

Anthony Ashley Cooper, First Earl of Shaftesbury, was one of the eight original Lords and a pronounced liberal.  Cooper was deeply interested in the plans for the new colony and collaborated with his friend and secretary, John Locke, to create the Fundamental Carolina Constitution.  

In this constitution, residents of the Carolinas were granted considerable religious freedoms that would come to attract many who wanted to practice their faith in peace.  By the mid-18th century, Charleston had become a bustling seaport which attracted many migrants of diverse backgrounds and religions.  

This religious diversity led to the creation of many stunning churches that are admired today for their magnificent architecture and distinct accents, as well as their rich history.

Exploring Charleston’s Historic Churches

Many of the historic churches that are scattered throughout Downtown Charleston have survived earthquakes, fires, hurricanes, and more.  Despite these hardships, the buildings have remained well-preserved and the fascinating architectural designs can still be admired.  From Romanesque pillars to Gothic-inspired styles, each church offers distinctive accents that make them unique.

As you explore Charleston’s historic churches, you will also get the chance to experience the charming neighborhoods located in the Historic District.  This guide will walk you through some of the must-see churches that reflect Charleston’s diverse roots and unique culture.

Charleston’s Downtown Historic Churches, Unitarian Church

photo credit: instagram user @styledbybecca

Unitarian Church in Charleston

Stroll along Archdale street and you will find the Unitarian Church, the second oldest church on the city peninsula and the oldest Unitarian church in the South.  It was made a National Historic Landmark in 1973 so that others could enjoy its Gothic style beauty for years to come.

A Brief History

Construction of the church first began in 1772 when members of the Circular Congregational Church needed additional space to worship.  Construction was halted in 1776, when the Revolutionary War broke out, and the church was used to quarter America militia and later British militia when they occupied the city.  

Completed in 1787, the church was later modernized in 1852 by Charleston architect Francis D. Lee, who designed the building in  a style that is now referred to as English Perpendicular Gothic Revival.  The Charleston Earthquake of 1886 managed to shear off the top of the Unitarian Church, requiring further remodeling by Boston architect Thomas Silloway.

Insider Tips

Take in the beautiful painted glass windows and look high above to notice the stunning tray ceiling.  Don’t forget to visit the church grounds, which is famous for its wild foliage and quiet sanctuary.

Charleston’s Downtown Historic Churches, St. Michaels

photo credit: instargram user @johnmackgreen

St. Michael’s Episcopal

St. Michael’s is the oldest surviving church building in Charleston.  Located at the corner of Broad and Meeting street, it is one of the few city churches in the U.S. that has remained relatively unchanged from its original design.

A Brief History

Built between 1751 and 1761, St. Michael’s Episcopal is located at the site of the original St. Philip’s Episcopal, which moved to Church street to accommodate its growing congregation.  

The original architect is unknown, but others have noted that the style is similar to that of English architect, Sir Christopher Wren.  With its 186-foot high steeple and grand two-story portico, the church is a majestic sight to see.

The inside of St. Michael’s is equally as captivating, with a beautiful Victorian-style altar and chancel rail of wrought-iron.  Although the inside has modern touches, much of the church remains original, including the Ainsworth-Thwaites clock, which may be the oldest functioning colonial clock in America.  The cedar wood pews are also original, and President George Washington himself sat in pew No.43 when he worshipped there in 1791.

Insider Tips

Near the base of the pulpit, you can see a scar from the Bombardment of Charleston in 1865, in which Union forces targeted St. Michael’s with guns and shells because it harbored Confederate troops.

Also be sure to check out St. Michael’s Churchyard, which is the resting place for notable figures that include two signers of the Constitution and a supreme court justice.

Charleston’s Downtown Historic Churches, Huguenot Church

photo credit: instagram user @tara_kaminski

French Huguenot Church

Located in the beautiful French Quarter neighborhood, the French Huguenot Church is another prime example of religious tolerance in the Holy City.  Built in 1845, it became a refuge for French Protestants looking to escape religious persecution by the French Catholic Court.

A Brief History

To escape cruel treatment under King Louis XIV, French Huguenots fled to America to settle in the colonies.  The English didn’t mind this at all, due to the fact that many of the French refugees brought valuable skills which helped the colonies flourish.

By the late 17th century, the first French Huguenot Church was established on what is now the corner of Church street and Queen street.  This church was destroyed to stop the spread of a fire and was later rebuilt in 1800.  

In 1844, the church was rebuilt to give it the Gothic Revival style architecture that was popular at the time.  Although the Bombardment of Charleston and an earthquake damaged the building, it retains much of its original structure.

Insider Tips

Designed by notable architect, Edward Brickell White, the buttresses and pointed arch windows are indicative of the Gothic Revival style, which was the first of its kind in Charleston.  When you look inside, ask about the history of the tracker organ, which was purchased in 1845.

Charleston’s Downtown Historic Churches, St Philips Church

photo credit: instagram user @coastalgal_221

St. Philip’s Church

Also located in the French Quartet neighborhood is St. Philip’s Church, the first Anglican church established south of Virginia and one of the tallest buildings in Charleston.  The congregation first formed in 1681, making it the oldest congregation in South Carolina.

A Brief History

St. Philip’s was originally built in 1681 at the corner of Meeting street and Broad street (now the present site of St. Michael’s), but a hurricane damaged the fragile wood building.  Starting in 1710, the church was rebuilt a few blocks away on Church street, and construction was completed in 1723.  

In 1835, a fire burned St. Philip’s to the ground, resulting in the third and present church structure.  Designed by architect Joseph Hyde, the church has unique features in both the interior and exterior, such as the three Tuscan porticoes and the beautiful Corinthian arcades inside the church.

Insider Tips

Tour hours are given by volunteers and may vary, so it’s best to call ahead if you would like a tour of St. Philip’s Church.  

The graveyard across the street from the church contains many notable people, including statesman John C. Calhoun and famous author Dubose Heyward.  It’s also a good location to take a photo of St. Philip’s church so that you can capture its impressive steeple.

Charleston’s Downtown Historic Churches, Circular Congregational Church

photo credit: instagram user @142church

Circular Congregational Church

Built in 1681, the Circular Congregational Church was the first independent church of Charles Towne and has a long history of standing for political and religious freedom.  Considering the hardships that the church has weathered in its past, it has certainly earned its place as a National Historic Landmark.

A Brief History

The Circular Church was founded by Protestant “dissenters” with the original settlement of Charles Towne.  These dissenters established a White Meeting House in 1732, which would later be called the Meeting House.  The street leading up to it was named Meeting street in its honor.

It was considered an unusual church in the colonial period and a place to express revolutionary ideas and thoughts.  Unfortunately, this love of freedom landed some members in exile when the British occupied Charleston in 1780.  

Members regrouped after the British evacuated and by 1787, they needed to build a second space to accommodate their growing number.  The church decided to replace the Meeting street house and hired architect Robert Mills, who designed a Greek-inspired building that could hold 2,000 worshippers.

In what is referred to as the “glory days” (1820-1860), the Circular Church had many black and white members.  After a fire destroyed much of the church, some black members decided to break off and form the Plymouth Congregational Church.

The new meeting house was built in 1890, designed with a Romanesque style that encapsulated the fiercely independent and nonconforming nature of its members.

Insider Tips

With its unique circular vestibule and round dome, the Circular Church has many distinct architectural accents that can be admired from outside and within.  Pay a visit the burial grounds, which are the oldest in Charleston and contain 18th century gravestones that offer a look into the history of the first settlers and their struggle.  

Charleston’s Downtown Historic Churches, Mother Emanuel AME Church

photo credit: instagram user @tracimagnus

Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church

Built in 1891, the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church is the oldest AME church in the South and the oldest African American congregation outside of Baltimore.  The church is located on Calhoun Street and is not only admired for its Gothic Revival style architecture, but also for its history of persisting in the face of discrimination.

A Brief History

The first congregation formed when free blacks and slaves came together in 1791.  In 1816, a dispute over burial grounds caused black members to officially withdraw from Charleston’s Methodist Episcopal church.  They decided to form their own congregation and start the Emanuel African Methodist Church, which consisted of 1400 members under the leader of Morris Brown.

Due to laws that prohibited blacks from operating a church without white supervision, Brown and other church leaders were arrested.  In 1821, Denmark Vesey, one of the church’s original founders, began to plan a slave rebellion.  The slave revolt plot was uncovered by authorities before it could be carried out, and the main organizers (including Vesey) were executed.

The Vesey controversy created animosity throughout the South, and the church was burned to the ground by angry whites.  AME members were forced to meet underground until they could rebuild the church after the Civil War.

Insider Tips

Pay special attention to the altar, pews, light fixtures, and communion railing—all of which are original features of the AME Church and have not been altered since its creation.  Gaze up at the towering steeple that was constructed under Rev. L. Ruffin Nichols after a deadly earthquake in 1886.

Charleston’s Downtown Historic Churches, Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim

photo credit: instagram user @robinshuler

Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim

Located in Charleston’s Downtown neighborhood on Hassel street is the Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim (KKBE).  It is the fourth oldest Jewish congregation in the country and the oldest synagogue in continuous use.

A Brief History

Charleston’s reputation for religious tolerance in the late 17th century had attracted many Jewish congregants to the area and by 1749, their numbers had grown enough to create their own congregation, Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim, (Holy Congregation House of God).  

In 1792, an elegant, Georgian style synagogue was constructed, but the great Charleston fire destroyed it in 1838.  The synagogue was rebuilt in 1840 on Hasell street in a Greek Revival style and is still in use today.

Insider Tips

The KKBE offers walk-in tours led by their knowledgeable docents, who will show you the historic Sanctuary and share their story.  The Coming Street Cemetery (located a few blocks away from KKBE) is the oldest surviving Jewish cemetery in the South and is worth touring as well.

Charleston’s Downtown Historic Churches, Cathedral of St. John the Baptist

photo credit: instagram user @mattsholr

Cathedral of St. John the Baptist

Located in Downtown Charleston on Broad Street, the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist is a magnificent, Connecticut tool-chiseled brownstone structure that can’t be missed.  This historic church is also home to the Roman Catholic Diocese in Charleston.

A Brief History

In 1821, shortly after taking up his duties as first Bishop of Charleston, Bishop John England decided to purchase land on the corner of Broad street and Friend street (now Legare).  The Bishop made plans to build a great cathedral, but did not live to see it completed in 1854.

The first cathedral, built by Brooklyn-based architect Patrick Keely, was a Gothic Revival style structure that could seat 1,200 people.  Unfortunately, the Charleston Fire of 1861 destroyed the church, and it wasn’t until 1907 when the doors officially opened once again.  The new church was nearly identical to Keely’s design, only slightly bigger.  

Insider Tips

The vaulted stain-glass windows will amaze you.  Look up at the 14-lancet arched Gothic windows that portray the life of Christ and take in the elegant pews carved from Flemish oak.  Although plans for a 100-ft spire were never carried out, the steeple is still prominent amongst Charleston’s skyline and makes for a great photo opportunity.

Charleston offers many opportunities to explore our nation’s history and the rich story of tolerance and freedom in this country. The stately churches of Charleston reflect a tapestry of traditions and faiths that weave together to tell the story of this unforgettable southern town.

5 Trendy NoMo Restaurants

NoMo restaurants are booming!  Located in the East Central area of the upper peninsula of Charleston, NoMo gets its name from being located on the north end of the peninsula on Morrison Drive — though many would argue that Morrison in itself is all north. You may know it as the north end of East Bay Street.

NoMo restaurants

Goat. Sheep. Cow. North, Photo Courtesy of Instagram User @goatsheepcownorth

The up-and-coming ‘hood’s location means cheaper rent and lots of room for development. And as the city continues to grow, so do the possibilities.

The name NoMo was really cemented with the construction of student housing on Morrison Drive, called 930 NoMo. Like the name or not — there was a bit of controversy! — NoMo has really taken off the past couple of years… but you can still call it East Central if you like.

Places like Tattooed Moose (the duck fat fries are the best) and Santi’s (great Mexican food and margaritas) made their claim to the area long before it got trendy. But other eateries have since arrived, turning it into a popular place to be.

Here are five new(ish) restaurants in NoMo that are helping the neighborhood make a name for itself.

NoMo restaurants

Lewis BBQ, Photo Courtesy of Instagram User @tracimagnus

Lewis BBQ, 464 North Nassau Street

Lewis opened last year with a bang, its mouth-watering Texas-style brisket giving its new Lowcountry fans a lot to moan about. Pitmaster John Lewis spent a decade perfecting his BBQ magic, a tradition that runs in his family, before arriving in downtown Charleston. But it’s not all brisket — and if you’re not in the mood for a line you can order a BBQ sandwich via a special window outside. The cocktails and craft beer are pretty special too, particularly when enjoyed on the patio.

Edmund’s Oast, 1081 Morrison Drive

Edmund’s Oast is upscale and a great spot for dining when you want to do it right. If you’re wanting to simply sample it first, go during happy hour for some killer food and drink deals. Top tip: the brunch is some of the best in town and a perfect destination for showing off the city’s culinary greatness to visiting friends and family.

Goat. Sheep. Cow. 804 Meeting Street #102

Goat. Sheep. Cow. earned a wonderful local reputation as a cheesemonger and cozy deli with a popular sandwich-of-the-day in its south of Broad spot before landing in NoMo late last year with a much more expansive space. If you’re looking for a fun place for wine, cheese, a bit of prosciutto, and plenty of conversation, bring a friend or two to the city’s premiere fromagerie.

NoMo restaurants

Butcher and Bee, Photo Courtesy of Instagram User @butcherandbee

Butcher & Bee, 1085 Morrison Drive

It was a sad day for Charleston, especially those in search of something to munch on late at night, when Butcher & Bee shut its King Street locale. So you can imagine the rejoicing when it re-opened last summer in NoMo. The restaurant wanted a bigger space, and that is exactly what it found, and then some, in its new spot. They also serve everything from brunch to lunch to, yes, late dinners til 2 a.m. Top tip: the burger is the best.

Home Team BBQ, 126 Williman Street

Home Team has enjoyed success in West Ashley and Sullivan’s Island, so naturally it was only a matter of time before it made its way downtown. Home Team arrived on the block before Lewis and, more recently, Rodney Scott moved in to turn the surrounding area into a BBQ destination. This location has the same favorites as the others — best wings in town, a comfortably casual feel. But downtown’s Home Team comes with more music, welcoming such greats as BB King’s son, because the blues and BBQ just go hand in hand.
What’s your favorite of the new (and not-so new) NoMo restaurants?

Charleston Market Statistics through March 2017

Charleston Market Statistics through February2017

We can comfortably consider the first quarter to have been a good start for residential real estate in 2017. There was certainly plenty to worry over when the year began. Aside from new national leadership in Washington, DC, and the policy shifts that can occur during such transitions, there was also the matter of continuous low housing supply, steadily rising mortgage rates and ever-increasing home prices. Nevertheless, sales have held their own in year-over-year comparisons and should improve during the busiest months of the real estate sales cycle.

The U.S. economy has improved for several quarters in a row, which has helped wage growth and retail consumption increase in year-over-year comparisons. Couple that with an unemployment rate that has been holding steady or dropping both nationally and in many localities, and consumer confidence is on the rise. As the economy improves, home sales tend to go up. It isn’t much more complex than that right now. Rising mortgage rates could slow growth eventually, but rate increases should be thought of as little more than a byproduct of a stronger economy and stronger demand.

Charleston Market Statistics through February2017

Daniel Island  |  Downtown Charleston  |  Folly Beach

Greater North Charleston  |  Kiawah Island  |  Johns Island

James Island  |  Isle of Palms/Wild Dunes  |  Lower Mount Pleasant

West Ashley  |  Upper Mount Pleasant  |  Upper Charleston Peninsula

Sullivans Island   |  Seabrook Island

Shop Local in Charleston this Spring

We love to shop, but more importantly we love to shop local! Charleston wasted no time this year — the warm days are upon us and it’s time to do some spring cleaning with the closet. Here are a few places where you can shop unique finds while also supporting local businesses. We’ve even included a place to take your wardrobe’s remnants from years past!

Bashful, 36 Windermere Blvd. West Ashley
There really is no such thing as window shopping at Bashful. The boutique stocks limited amounts of unique, trendy women’s wear, jewelry, and handbags, so you have to buy before it goes “bye!” You may remember it from its old location in Avondale, but the shop has upgraded now to more space in S. Windermere shopping center.

Shop Local Charleston

Consigning Women & Men, Photo Courtesy of Instagram User @consigningwomenandmen

Consigning Women, 21 Magnolia Road, West Ashley
Consigning Women & Men, 1055 Crickentree Village, Mt. Pleasant
A Charleston tradition since 1989, Consigning Women stocks only high-quality, name-brand, currently stylish clothing for a fraction of the original price. Bring in your own gently used clothes and not only will you be doing your once-chaotic closet a favor, but you’ll also get in on a very economic exchange. The shops are good for your wallet, but they’re great for the planet!

MOSA Boutique, 420 King Street, Downtown Charleston
From slinky sundresses to lace mini dresses, MOSA on King also has an in-store bar, complete with craft beer on tap, wine, and mimosas — mimosa, MOSA, get it? They’re stocked on both booze and spring styles, and their comfy seating area will ensure the spouse and kids have a place to rest while you shop.

Channels, 507.5 King Street, Downtown Charleston
Channels arrived to King Street in 2014, combining the surf and skate styles that the owners embrace in their everyday lives. You can expect to see a long list of quality brands here, including Citrine Swim, Reef, Boho Me, and Chucktown Inc. Summer styles range from cute and casual to cool and sporty, and their line of sunnies and swimwear is not to be missed.

Shop Local, Candy Shop VIntage

Candy Shop VIntage, Photo Courtesy of Instagram User @candyshopvintage

Candy Shop Vintage, 9 Cannon St, Downtown Charleston
Since 2009, Deirdre Zahl has sold incredible vintage jewelry and vintage-inspired jewelry as Candy Shop Vintage. Her own Candy Shop Collection consists of vintage-inspired jewelry that reflect the quality and craftsmanship of the vintage jewelry she has collected for many years. Zahl also introduced her own Charleston rice bead necklaces as an homage to flapper-style costume jewelry she’d discovered in her antique store digs. We think the whimsical colors and fun lengths make for a playful spring accessory.

Holy City Vintage Market
Holy City Vintage Market is a roaming pop-up market where many local vintage vendors who typically have online Etsy shops set up for the day and show you their latest wares. The market only pops up every two months or so, and the vendors can vary — and the vendors’ stock always varies! Each shop has a different eye/style so you’re sure to find something that’s you – from Runaround Sue’s vibrant 1960s style to Red Rose Vintage’s (a shop that travels in an updated vintage airstream) casual 80s gear to the boho, floral styles of Little French Dress. The next HCVM is on Easter Sunday April 16 at Park Cafe (730 Rutledge Avenue, downtown Charleston), so you can sip mimosas from the outside bar and shop while you wait for a brunch table!
Where will you shop this spring?

Dog-friendly Charleston: Where to eat and drink with your pups

In search of dog-friendly Charleston? Dining in the culinary haven of Charleston is always a treat, but it’s even sweeter when you can bring your furry best friend along.  We’ve found that there are several places particularly cool with pet customers, with some even providing water bowls so your pooch can stay hydrated in the Lowcountry heat.

Dog friendly Charleston Fuel @fuelcharleston

Chilling on the Patio at Fuel, Image Courtesy of Instagram User @fuelcharleston

Here are just a few of the spots we love the most — because they love the furry company we keep.

Downtown:

Fuel, 211 Rutledge Avenue

Formerly a gas station, Fuel is a fun spot for Caribbean-fused cuisine and comes complete with an outdoor bar, where pets and customers delightfully mingle.

Taco Boy, 217 Huger Street

An off-the-beaten-path local favorite, Taco Boy boasts delicious tacos, frozen screwdrivers, and a massive patio perfect for drinking in the sun with your pooch.

Kudu, 4 Vanderhorst Street

Kudu is known for its killer coffee and craft beer, and it’s particularly loved for its patio, where college kids, young, artsy professionals and more spend afternoons socializing or reading alone — with a pup in tow.

Mt Pleasant:

Two Blokes Brewery, 547 Long Point Road

Relatively new to the beer scene, Two Blokes Brewing serves not only well-crafted local brews, but on  the weekend it’s wild with both kids and dogs — so if you’re looking for a family friendly spot to consume an adult bev, this is a great spot.

Triangle Char & Bar, 1440 Ben Sawyer Blvd.

You may have to wait for a seat at brunch at Triangle, but at least your pooch can sit with you on the restaurant’s sun-blessed patio.

Dog friendly Charleston Poes Tavern @poestavern

Image Courtesy of Instagram User @poestavern

Sullivans Island:

Dunleavey’s Pub, 2213 Middle Street

What’s better than an Irish pub in a beach town? Not much. There are so many reasons to love this family-owned traditional pub, but great burgers, cool pints of Guinness, and dog-friendly outdoor seating top the list.

Poe’s Tavern, 2210 Middle Street

You may think an Edgar Allen Poe-themed bar and grill sounds a bit dark, but the lively, fun atmosphere of Poe’s Tavern will quickly change your mind. Nothing better than taking your four-legged kiddo for a walk on the beach and then heading to Poe’s for delicious fish tacos or one of their gourmet chicken sandwiches. Well-behaved dogs are regularly resting on the patio.

Folly Beach:

Lost Dog Cafe, 106 W Huron Avenue

Most Charlestonians don’t need a list of dog-friendly places to know about Lost Dog — this place was literally made for dogs. Well, the menu is very much for humans (and it’s all delicious) but you’ll see about a dozen dogs here on any given day — and more during Sunday brunch, which is basically our idea of heaven.

Jack of Cups, 34 Center Street

Also on Folly, Jack of Cups serves up Asian-infused food that’s so good you’ll leave satisfied and somewhat speechless. Their beer selection is top notch and ever-changing, and their backyard, as well as their front patio, complete with water bowls, are the reasons why you should bring your pups along.

Dog friendly Charleston The Barrel @thebarrelcharleston

Photo Courtesy of Instagram User @thebarrelcharleston

James Island:

The Barrel, 1859 Folly Road

If Lost Dog is first on everyone’s dog-friendly list, the Barrel is either tied or a close second. This is a great little spot for excellent craft beer pours, but the backyard is where it’s at. Unleashed dogs run free here, and there’s even a small pen for your tinier pups.

Bohemian Bull, 1531 Folly Road

Not far from the Barrel, the Bohemian Bull offers great food and cocktails but with a cool, outdoor, bohemian vibe where four-legged friends are always welcome.

West Ashley:

Home Team BBQ, 1205 Ashley River Road

The wings alone are reason enough to visit Home Team today and often, but nothing’s better than happy hour wings on the patio as you sneak a pork rind to your furry best friend.

Tin Roof, 1117 Magnolia Road

Tin Roof has always been dog-friendly, but it’s become increasingly so of late, with the back patio open for business with a back bar, so you can have a High Life while living the high life with your unleashed pups. Just don’t forget to clean up after them.
Where is your favorite spot to dine in dog-friendly Charleston?

 

Charleston Market Statistics Through February 2017

Market Stats blog image
The start of the year ushered in a wave of good news about a hot stock market, higher wages and an active home sales environment. At the same time, housing prices have continued to rise, and the low inventory situation and affordability crunch has been particularly hard on first-time buyers struggling to get into the market. Nevertheless, buyer activity is easily outpacing seller activity in much of the country, culminating in relatively quick sales and low supply. Demand definitely remained strong this month.
Closed Sales + 14.9% |  Med. Sales Price + 1.8% | Months Supply – 27.9%

5 Distinguishing Features of a Charleston Single House

Charleston Single Houses

photo credit: Instagram user @tara_kaminski

If you’re a long-time Charlestonian, chances are you’ve lived in a Charleston single house at some point in your life.  Many visitors have come away remembering this iconic Charleston architecture.  Charleston singles are, after all, common throughout the peninsula and beyond. From the mansions South of Broad to modest neighborhoods extending past the crosstown, the Charleston single is part of the city’s makeup and charm.

So what makes up a Charleston single house?  Several things, like its long, narrow shape, distinguish the style from others, while the somewhat private porch is often the most favored feature of all. Of course, there’s rhyme and reason to its design, mainly relating to local conditions — namely the city’s hot and humid summers. Yes, even centuries ago, Charleston was known for being muggy on summer days and sultry in the evenings!

Here are a few of the features you’ll find in a Charleston single house and reasons behind their particular design:

Charleston Single House

photo credit: Instagram user @beauclowneyarchitects

1. Long, narrow shape

In order to build a single house, you need only a long, narrow lot, which is how the city was laid out in its early days. The tall, slender homes are typically placed quite closely to the neighboring home, perhaps too close for comfort in some cases. The single house has a narrow side, with the long side of the house – the traditional “front”  – being perpendicular to the street. The plain, short facade is what faces the street.

2. Width

While the house is long and narrow,  it is also only one room wide, when viewed from the street — which gives the single house its name!  But what the home lacks in width it makes up for in length and height. As mentioned before, the house is quite long, while many Charleston single houses are also several tiers high.

Charleston Singles House

photo credit: Instagram user @dtnash

3. The Front Door

What may appear to be a front door — the one facing the street — is only an entrance to the private porch. The actual front door is down the middle of the porch. This was intended to give more privacy to the homeowners during the more modest Victorian period.

4. Interior Layout

Though the architectural form of the single house comes in everything from Federal to Victorian styles, the most consistent feature will always be its interior layout. A front door along the long side of the house leads you into a foyer and stairwell, and there’s a room to the left, usually a bedroom, and to the right — which normally serves as the living room, with the kitchen being on the other side of the living room — an open archway separating the two. The same floor plan is generally repeated upstairs.

photo credit: Instagram user @sweetteaheather

The Porch

Single houses have side porches — oops, pardon, I mean piazzas. Accessible via the aforementioned door on the street-side of the house, the piazza is strategically placed on the long side of the house to increase the odds of catching a cool breeze— definitely a factor to consider in a city that gets so hot and muggy during summers. They are also a pretty sweet spot to enjoy a cup of tea or an afternoon snooze!

Screen Shot 2017-02-21 at 4.41.18 PM

photo credit: Instagram user @asmantiques_charleston_sc

If you are looking for a Charleston single to call your own, stop by The Real Estate Studio where our experienced, professional agents are always here to answer questions or show property.

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