While this may seem like an odd title, it’s not for me. I have ‘minimal’ sense of direction. I’m convinced it comes from being born in NYC, everything is in a grid. You don’t need any spatial skills, there were signs on every corner.
This is the Cooper river, north of Charleston and flows to the Atlantic Ocean past the city.
I say I found it since it was on the end of a trail I walked, in a new area. I knew it should be right there, but really, that doesn’t mean much with me.
Because we are flat (hence Lowcountry name) it winds around lazy like. If you know the George Gershwin musical Porgy And Bess, or the song ‘Summertime’ you know the area. it was written in Charleston. Actually the Folly Beach part of town where this river hits the back end of Folly.
And as expected wildlife followed. When I hit the river I heard Osprey, they came over the tree line.
Of course I took the shot. Short lens, but a beautiful raptor right over my head.
This house was built by Charleston merchant John Robinson who, with the fickleness of early nineteenth century fortunes, lost it soon afterwards. Several trading ships he owned were lost at sea. The house was sold to cover his debts though he was not legally responsible.
During the bombardment of Charleston, many of the grand houses were pounded into rubble, but this house escaped due to its placement further up Charleston’s slender peninsula. However, when Charleston fell to Union forces in 1865 the house was looted and William Aiken arrested and taken to Washington for trial. He was later released due to the intervention of northern politicians he’d made friends with during his political heyday.
Unlike many of the old houses here there was a large parcel of property. Behind the main house there are stables and quarters for a large number of enslaved people.
Prior to the US Civil War William Aiken was not only a wealthy planter/merchant he was also the states governor.
Though their house had been looted, abused, and most of its valuables stolen, the Aiken family managed not to lose their home to federal taxes like so many did. They hung on and stayed on, as did most of the old families in Charleston. Too poor to paint and too proud to whitewash, as the saying goes. In the Aiken’s case, this meant wallpaper peeled, and carpets grew threadbare. It meant fabrics and plaster began to disintegrate, and in some places dry rot set in. With little money for wood or coal to heat large spaces, grand rooms were shut up entirely. It meant multiple generations lived together, paying expenses as best they could. Their descendants occupied it until 1975.
Note; much of the information above was provided by the South Carolina Picture Project.
Charlestons old jail housed some of the areas most notorious criminals, and many non criminals. Built in 1802 it was not a place meant to rehabilitate, it was to punish or just lock away people as deemed necessary.
I’ve been told the truth is people were not kept here for long periods. A solution was determined, permanent or otherwise, as quick as possible.
The first floor was for people of means, death row, or other temporary needs. These images are of the second floor.
This was a difficult place, for criminals, debtors, or poor individuals waiting for trail.
Above is from inside one of the ‘cells’. Basically a cage that can house 11 – 15 people. Age and sex did not matter. Large rooms looked to hold about 4 cages. A single fire place in the corner could provide some heat.
There were windows for air. Also if a prisoner did have any money items could be purchased, and retrieved by rope, from outside the jail.
John and Lavinia Fisher, as well as members of their gang, were imprisoned here. They were famous highwaymen of the era (Lavinia was at one point wrongly accused of being the first female serial killer). Also Pirates still roamed the seas, once Black Beard the pirate closed the harbor and demanded ransom… or something. That story grows in details almost weekly. However, pirates were caught and executed in this jail.
Note; The old Charleston Jail is being renovated to be used for commercial purposes. A small group was invited to visit and photograph the historical site before it is gone. This is part of that project.