Today In Charleston History, August 9

1792, August 9. Commerce. Culture. Theater.

The contract to construct the new theater for West and Bignall was given to Captain Anthony Toomer, with the understanding that the building was to be finished in January 1793.  The lot for the theater was a triangle parcel at Broad and Middleton streets, and the high ground of Savage’s Green (present-day New Street), purchased from Henry Middleton for £500 sterling.     

There is some evidence that the theater was designed by James Hoban, who had lived in Charleston for a couple of years while helping design and build the Charleston County Courthouse.


charleston theater, broad and new streets

Rendering of the New Theater at Savage’s Green, facing Broad Street (present day location of New and Broad Streets)


Charleston Almanac update

The Charleston Almanac manuscript has been indexed (3 weeks of fun!). Proofs will be ready by the first of February. Another step forward.

This is the finalized cover.


Today In Charleston History – August 30

1706 – Queen Anne’s War

At daybreak, Captain Cantey and 100 militia from Charles Town attacked the French, driving them back across Shem Creek. Several French drowned and fifty-eight French prisoners were taken. One Charles Town militia was killed. 

1778 – Duel

Gen. Robert Howe

The duel between General Robert Howe and Vice President Christopher Gadsden took place. Howe demanded satisfaction from Gadsden, due to the unflattering letter that Gadsden had written about Howe’s military ability.  Col. Charles Pinckney served as Howe’s second, while Col. Bernard Elliot served that role for Gadsden.

Howe missed his first shot at eight paces, grazing Gadsden’s ear. Gadsden then intentionally fired into the air and demanded Howe fire a second time. Howe refused. The two men shook hands and parted.

George Washington Visits Charleston: Day 9

George Washington’s Visit – Day 9

Monday, May 9, 1791

Early in the morning Washington left for Savannah in the company of Gov. Pinckney, Gen. Charles Cotesworth Pinckney and Sen. Pierce Butler. They escorted Washington to his cousin’s (Col. William Washington) plantation Sandy Hill for the evening meal and lodgings.

Butler remained with Washington for the entire journey to Savannah (where he owned several plantations). 


Pierce Butler


George Washington Visits Charleston: Day 7

George Washington Visit – Day 7

Saturday, May 7, 1791

        Before breakfast, Washington visited the Orphan House at which there were 107 boys and girls, and he was impressed with the management of the house.After touring the house and gardens, the President had breakfast with the children. 

(Note: The Orphan House was being operated out of a building off Market Street at this time. The famous Orphan House building on Calhoun street opened in 1794.)

        Washington wrote in his diary:

I also viewed the City from the balcony (the portico above the clock) of [St. Michael’s] Church from whence the whole is seen in one view and to advantage, the Gardens & green trees which are interspersed adding much to the beauty of the prospect. Charleston stands on a Pininsula [sic] between the Ashley & Cooper Rivers and contains about 1600 dwelling houses and nearly 16.000 Souls of which about 8000 are white—It lies low with unpaved streets (except the footways) of sand. —There are a number of very good houses of Brick & wood but most of the latter—The Inhabitants are wealthy, —Gay—& hospitable; appear happy and satisfied w’ith the Genl. Government.

st. michael's - postcard

St. Michael’s Church, built in 1762. 

George Washington Visits Charleston: Day 6

 George Washington Visit – Day 6

May 6, 1791

Washington toured the town on horseback for most of the day, riding up and down most of the principal streets. Sometime during the day Washington stopped to observe the work on rebuilding of the State House and talk with the supervising architect, James Hoban.

Charleston  courthouse- Old  _large

Charleston County Courthouse, formerly the State House.

Washington had recently been given the duty by Congress to build “the President’s House” (later called the White House) in D.C. Hoban was given the job by Washington to design and supervise the construction of the White House. 

The evening meal was at Sen. Pierce Butler’s home and then a party at Gov. Pinckney’s home.

George Washington Visits Charleston: Day 5

George Washington Visit: Day 5

May 5, 1791

Washington visited Fort Johnson (James Island) and Fort Moultrie (Sullivan’s Island). For the evening Washington was once again entertained at the Exchange at a dinner hosted by Gov. Pinckney and other principal gentlemen of the city.

The dinner must have been as spectacular as the previous evening for Washington wrote in his diary “there were at least 400 ladies – the Number & appearance of which exceeded anything of the kind I had ever seen.”


Gov. Charles Pinckney