Charleston Historic Sites
Denmark Vesey Residence
DESCRIPTION: Denmark Vesey (1767-1822) was born enslaved on the Virgin Islands; He settled in this residence, opened his carpentry shop and became a successful businessman. He planned an uprising against slavery in 1822 that was thwarted by a leak beforehand. His home is a National Historic Landmark.
ADDRESS: 56 Bull Street, Charleston, SC MAP
DESCRIPTION: Built by merchant John Robinson in 1818 and acquired by William Aiken, Jr. in 1833 resulted in remodeling, which created one of Charleston’s most palatial residences. One of the nation’s most complete and compelling glimpses of early urban life for African Americans. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
ADMISSION: Under $10
DAYS & HOURS: Mon-Sat 10a-5p; Sun 2p-5p
ADDRESS: 48 Elizabeth Street, Charleston, SC MAP
DESCRIPTION: Established as Ashley River plantation in 1738, the ‘Big House’ provides a graphic record of African American craftsmanship; nature trails lead visitors to work sites and landscapes. Take advantage of resources for genealogical searches here. Historical photos and videotapes of African American life are also present. Don’t miss the African-American Cemetery, Sacred Site, along the long drive in. Grave sites are of slaves and freedmen who lived and worked on the plantation.
ADDRESS: 3380 Ashley River Road, Charleston, SC MAP
DESCRIPTION: Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, Magnolia Plantation has been the ancestral home of the Drayton family since 1676. It includes over 30 acres of gardens making it the oldest major public gardens in the U.S. It features miles of canoe, bike, walking trails and a “Street” of antebellum slave cabins and the Native American ceremonial mound. Also has Biblical Garden, Barbados Tropical Garden, and petting zoo.
ADDRESS: 3550 Ashley River Road, Charleston, SC MAP
DESCRIPTION: Settled in 1741 by the politically affluent Middleton family, today Eliza’s House is the former home of two freemen, Ned and Chloe. The current house was built circa 1870. A self-guided tour of the stable yards provides a glimpse of the tasks slaves performed here. Educational group tours are available.
ADDRESS: 4300 Ashley River Road, Charleston, SC MAP
DESCRIPTION: African American residents sold produce on window sills on this section of Church Street, which was the inspiration for Catfish Row in the Dubose Heyword story of Porgy. The story later became an opera and movie Porgy and Bess, providing a fictionalized glimpse of Charleston’s Black life during the 1920s. The character Porgy was based on an actual Charlestonian, Samuel Smalls.
ADDRESS: 91 Church Street, Charleston, SC MAP
DESCRIPTION: Founded 1891 by Rev. Daniel Jenkins, a Baptist minister, the orphanage occupied this structure 1895-1939. The building also served as Marine and Confederate hospital during the Civil War and as a free school for Black children 1866-1870.
ADDRESS: 20 Franklin Street, Charleston, SC MAP
DESCRIPTION: Built in 1802, free Black sailors were confined here until their ships left as mandated by the Negro Seaman’s Act, passed in response to Denmark Vesey’s failed uprising plan in 1822.
ADDRESS: 21 Magazine Street, Charleston, SC MAP
Burke High School
DESCRIPTION: Built in circa 1948; this historically Black high school had several famous graduates, including former Charlotte mayor, Harvey Gantt, who went on to desegregate Clemson College (now Clemson University) in 1963. The school is closed now, and stands directly across from the new Burke High School, which Gantt helped build.
ADDRESS: 244 President Street, Charleston, SC MAP
Charles Pinckney Natural Historic Site
DESCRIPTION: Last protected remnant of Snee Farm, the country estate of Charles Pinckney (1754-1824) is the Charles Pinckney Natural Historic Site. Pinckney was a statesman, revolutionary war officer and a principal framer of the U.S. Constitution. The site contains archeological discoveries, an 1820s tidewater cottage, and interpretations of African-American life and contributions during the colonial era.
DAYS & HOURS: 9a-5p daily (until 6p Memorial Day-Labor Day)
ADDRESS: 1254 Long Point Road, Mt. Pleasant, SC MAP
Boone Hall Plantation
DESCRIPTION: Settled in the 1680s, “Slave Street” features nine original slave row houses brick, tiles, rice and pecans were the plantation’s primary commodities. A row of brick slave quarters dating back to the 1740s and the big house built in the 1930s on are open to the public during normal business hours. one of the slaves cabins was used in the movie Alex Haley movie Queen starring Halle Berry.
DAYS & HOURS: Mon–Sat 9a–5p, Sun 1p-4p
ADDRESS: 1235 Long Point Road, Mount Pleasant, SC MAP
DESCRIPTION: Massachusetts 54th Colored Regiment, portrayed in the movie Glory fought heroically on this island in Charleston’s harbor. See Colored Troops Glorious Assault on Fort Wagner.
ADDRESS: Charleston Harbor, Morris Island, SC MAP
Hampton Plantation State Park
DESCRIPTION: Homestead to the Horrys, a French Huguenot (Protestant) family who came to South Carolina to escape religious persecution in their homeland, the big house dates back to 1750. By 1760, there were 320 slaves on the property — a contradiction of Christian values. The house structure is offers a look at African-American craftsmanship of that period. Guided house tours to interpret slave life and a self-guided tour of the former rice fields punctuate this experience.
ADDRESS: 1950 Rutledge Road, McClellanville, SC MAP
Stono River Slave Rebellion Site
DESCRIPTION: On 9 September 1739, an Angolan slave named Jemy led a small group of African slaves to raid a planters house for tools and weapons. They marched towards Spanish controlled St. Augustine, where they thought they were heading to freedom. Over time the group grew to 80 escaped slaves. They burned plantations and killed suspected plantation owners along the way. After marching about 12 miles South, they encountered militia who killed nearly half of them. Shortly after the rebellion, rigid Slave Codes were passed in the Southern colonies to limit the freedom and rights of all enslaved people and Free Persons of Color. The site is a National Historic Landmark.
ADDRESS: off US Route 17, on the west bank of the Wallace River, Rantowles, SC MAP