Charleston’s Downtown History Museums Walk (Self Guided), Charleston

Charleston is very famous for its large number of historic houses and history museums. Take the tour below to see some of the most famous and interesting history museums in Downtown Charleston. Take this walking tour and you will learn more about history of Charleston.
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Charleston’s Downtown History Museums Walk Map

Guide Name: Charleston’s Downtown History Museums Walk
Guide Location: USA » Charleston (See other walking tours in Charleston)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.1 Km or 3.2 Miles
Author: alice
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon
  • Old Slave Mart
  • Powder Magazine
  • Jewish Heritage Collection
  • Karpeles Manuscript Museum
  • Daniel Library and Museum (Citadel Archives and Museum)
1
Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon

1) Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon (must see)

Built from 1767–1771 by South Carolina's provincial government, the Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon, also known as the Custom House and Half-Moon Battery, and The Exchange, was used during the 18th century for a variety of civic functions, including as a custom house, public market, public meeting place, and jail. In 1790, the State Legislature met here to ratify the new State Constitution. The building was badly damaged by Union artillery fire during the Civil War and the great earthquake of 1886; it was repaired after each occasion.

Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1973, the building is owned by the South Carolina Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, who operate guided costumed tours that include all three floors of the building. The Provost Dungeon once had animatronic figures that told stories of pirates and colonial days, but those have been supplanted by personal dungeon tours by docents.

Why You Should Visit:
If seeing a real dungeon is high on your to-do list, this is a must, as the guided dungeon tour is intriguing and the best part of the experience.
The history of the building and property is fascinating, nonetheless, and there are some fun activities on the main and second floors.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
2
Old Slave Mart

2) Old Slave Mart (must see)

The Old Slave Mart is a building located at 6 Chalmers Street in Charleston, SC that once housed an antebellum slave auction gallery. Constructed in 1859, the building is believed to be the last extant slave auction facility in South Carolina. In 1975, the Old Slave Mart was added to the National Register of Historic Places for its role in Charleston's African-American history. Today, the building houses the Old Slave Mart Museum.

The Old Slave Mart was originally part of a slave market known as Ryan's Slave Mart, which covered a large enclosed lot between Chalmers and Queen streets. The market was established in 1856 by Charleston City Councilman Thomas Ryan after a citywide ban on public slave auctions made private facilities necessary. Slave auctions were held at the site until approximately 1863; in 1865, the Union Army occupied Charleston and closed Ryan's Mart. The Old Slave Mart Museum has operated on and off since 1938.

Why You Should Visit:
Highly informative museum, with extremely knowledgeable staff that's more than capable of responding to questions that the various exhibits will undoubtedly raise in your mind.
Exhibits are related to both the transcontinental slave trade and the domestic slave trade, with numerous large storyboards along with personal stories from slaves.

Tip:
Consider buying a ticket here in conjunction with the Old Exchange, as you get a discount when purchasing multiple tickets.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 9am-5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
3
Powder Magazine

3) Powder Magazine

The Powder Magazine is a gunpowder magazine and museum in Charleston, and the oldest surviving public building in the former Province of Carolina. It was erected in 1713 by colonial settlers as a place to safely store and centralize their gunpowder supplies. It was also involved in the 1780 siege of Charleston. The Powder Magazine was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1989. It has operated as a museum since the early 1900s, although extensive renovations have since been conducted. The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America is the current operator of the museum, which includes historic artifacts and displays about the building during the Colonial and American Revolution periods. Each wall of the building boasts a large arch. The walls get thinner as they reach the top of the arch, changing from three feet thick, near the ground, to just a few inches thick near the top.
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
Jewish Heritage Collection

4) Jewish Heritage Collection

The Jewish Heritage Collection is a very interesting archives located in Special Collections at the College's Addlestone Library. It shows 300 years of Jewish life in the southern United States. The exhibitions were established in 1995 and have been enriched by documents, photographs, and other memorabilia relating to the Jews. The museum is taken care of by the Jewish Historical Society of South Carolina.
5
Karpeles Manuscript Museum

5) Karpeles Manuscript Museum (must see)

Founded in 1983 by David and Marsha Karpeles, the Karpeles Manuscript Library is the world's largest private collection of original manuscripts and documents. To make the documents more accessible, there are several Karpeles museums across the US. Items are rotated between museums quarterly and each of the museums present a daily general exhibit and one or more special scheduled exhibits throughout the year. Each of the libraries is located in a historic building.

Karpeles Manuscript Museum in Charleston library is housed in a former Methodist church named St. James Chapel which was built in 1856. The building is in the Greek Revival style following the Corinthian order and was inspired by the Temple of Jupiter in Rome. The inside of the building is in considerably better repair than the outside and is a worthy home for the very interesting documents currently on exhibit.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 11am-4pm
Closed Mondays and Holidays
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
Daniel Library and Museum (Citadel Archives and Museum)

6) Daniel Library and Museum (Citadel Archives and Museum)

Citadel Archives and Museum is located on the grounds of the Military College of South Carolina and tells the history of the college since its foundation in 1842 till the present times. It has very interesting and exceptional exhibitions and memorabilia.

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