Uniquely Charleston Tours
Working in downtown Charleston, the carriages and tour groups on foot are ubiquitous. dunes properties is located on the first floor of a famous former bordello so you can guarantee the tour guides are certain to point it out every time they pass.
If you however, are looking for something more Uniquely Charleston, I know just the guy for the job. Paul Garbarini’s Uniquely Charleston tours are walking tours customized to your party’s interests. Limited to no more than six people, he can take time to answer all of your questions and focus on the elements that pique your particular interest. “I’m old enough to only do things that are fun, and more than six people on a tour is not fun! The regular walking tours max out at 20,” Paul explains. He also works on your schedule to accommodate the stamina and needs on an individual basis planning shady walks, bathroom breaks, and water along the way. And, if you want or need a driving tour, he’ll do that as well. In his eighth year now doing downtown tours, Paul is also an interpreter at McCloud Plantation Historic Site.
Word of mouth and reviews on Tripadvisor are virtually his only advertising. He has a website, but the business is built on the delighted customers who praise his knowledge and enthusiasm. Paul’s very particular charm and verve will entertain even the soberest tourist. When asked about the cost he declared “I base it on price per person and it’s 90 minutes long unless we are having too much fun or we’re all excited.”
Self – taught over 20 years, his independent research means no one else tells the stories he does. Rather than focus on the rich people who owned the buildings or the statues of military leaders, he explains who built the city, how they lived, and worked. In the 21st century, the concepts of labor and work can be troublesome to process let alone an understanding of what enslavement has meant for our country. According to Paul “It’s an opportunity to raise awareness – I am a ‘brick geek’ – I know both the people who made the bricks and the people who owned them. Their descendants asked me to tell the whole story.”
When asked who his clients were, he replied, “The universe has sent me philosophically compatible people.” One in particular was Dr. Ysaye Barnwell. She traveled from her home in New York to Charleston to make a presentation for the Avery Institute of African American History and Culture at her grandfather’s church – Central Baptist on Radcliffe Street. Because her family was originally from Charleston, she wanted a custom tour. Paul set about researching her genealogy and found that her grandfather, who died in 1907, was one of the richest African American men in town. Originally an enslaved person, Paul even found the original bill of sale from when he was sold in the public records. He went on to learn Dr. Barnwell’s grandfather, William James Parker, was known as the Tinsmith of Tradd Street. Church and census records showed he was also a founding member of Central Baptist Church, and that he donated the labor to put the tin roof on the new church and erect the metal steeple tower. On her personal tour, Paul not only toured the church, but also two of the homes in which he had lived on Tradd. Paul was acquainted with the owner of 12 Tradd who welcomed her inside. Grateful and overwhelming was how she described her experience.
I’m pretty sure that was a tour no one else has ever given. Truly unique.
For more information, or to schedule your own Uniquely Charleston Tour, visit https://uniquelycharleston.tours/.