Harleston Village Walking Tour, Charleston

Harleston Village Walking Tour (Self Guided), Charleston

First established in 18th century, Harleston Village is an old and popular neighborhood in Charleston. College of Charleston, one of the oldest universities in the country, was founded here in 1770. The area is dotted with Georgian and Italian architectural buildings. Among them, the former houses of John Rutledge and Edward Rutledge, two signers of Declaration of Independence, are beautifully preserved and well worth a visit. If you are looking for fine Southern cuisine, you will sure find them on King Street at the area's eastern border. Follow this self guided walking tour to explore the popular attractions in this historic and charming neighborhood.
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Harleston Village Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Harleston Village Walking Tour
Guide Location: USA » Charleston (See other walking tours in Charleston)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 9
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.3 Km or 1.4 Miles
Author: alice
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • College of Charleston
  • King Street
  • John Rutledge House (Bed and Breakfast)
  • Edward Rutledge House (Governor's Inn)
  • Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
  • Unitarian Church in Charleston
  • Old Charleston Jail
  • Old Marine Hospital
  • Colonial Lake
College of Charleston

1) College of Charleston

The College of Charleston is a public liberal arts college in Charleston, South Carolina. Founded in 1770 it is the oldest college in South Carolina, the 13th oldest institution of higher learning in the United States, and the oldest municipal college in the country. The founders of the college include three future signers of the Declaration of Independence (Edward Rutledge, Arthur Middleton, and Thomas Heyward) and three future signers of the United States Constitution (John Rutledge, Charles Pinckney, and Charles Cotesworth Pinckney).

Due to the historic look and beauty of the campus, many movies and television shows have been filmed at the College of Charleston, including General Hospital, North and South, The View, Cold Mountain, The Patriot, White Squall, Wife Swap, O, The Notebook, Dear John, and Mandie. The most popular scene location is Randolph Hall. Built in 1828–29, Randolph Hall is one of the oldest college buildings still in use in the United States. The building has been designated as a National Historic Landmark.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
King Street

2) King Street

King Street and its surroundings are, perhaps, the most happening area in Charleston. It is also the second most historically and architecturally significant downtown lane, after Meeting Street, where the city's past and present converge. More than three centuries old, this thoroughfare was named for King Charles II of England and soon thrived as a retail corridor, commercial center, and a major shopping district, hosting a variety of high-end specialty stores.

Do you like it upscale? If not to shop, then at least to look? A stroll down this street's pedestrian-friendly sidewalks takes you by the shops offering unique and handmade jewelry, antiques, gifts, shoes, and fine clothing; as well as galleries of local artists and artisans. Peculiar enough, many local stores still "dress" their windows as they did back in the old days. There's also no shortage of trendy restaurants and cool little coffee & dessert shops here either, worth stopping by and taking a break. A definite must-visit among them is Gullah Gourmet!

Of course, with so many options on the table, one can't help wondering where to start. While planning your time here, consider that the street is divided into three sections: the lower section for antiques, the middle for boutiques, and the upper one for trendy design, gift shops, and dining. Explore at your pleasure!
John Rutledge House (Bed and Breakfast)

3) John Rutledge House (Bed and Breakfast)

On the north side of Broad Street in historic Charleston, the magnificent John Rutledge House Inn is very close to the old South of Broad neighborhood not only in geography but also in feel. Known as "America's most historic inn", the house boasts a fine old pedigree indeed; built for Constitution signer John Rutledge in the 1760s, it's one of only fifteen homes belonging to the original signers to survive. George Washington breakfasted here with Mrs. Rutledge in 1791.

Today, the tall three-story structure is one of the most popular bed-and-breakfasts in Charleston, having earned a AAA Four-Diamond rating. History is everywhere in this building, but it is also beautifully restored with every modern convenience and elegant, but very comfortable furniture. There are 19 guest rooms, ranging from standard hotel rooms to large suites, which are divided among the main house and the two carriage houses at the rear of the property. The period interior is stunning: Italian marble fireplaces, original plaster moldings, and masterful ironwork abound in the public spaces. The ballroom (open to the public) is used for afternoon tea as well as breakfast.
Edward Rutledge House (Governor's Inn)

4) Edward Rutledge House (Governor's Inn)

On the south side of Broad Street is the Edward Rutledge House, now known as the Governor's House Inn; a National Historic Landmark that is oriented as many Charleston houses are, with a two-story porch facing to the right side. The facade facing Broad Street has a gable at the center of the roof, which is fully pedimented and has modillions lining its outline. An entrance is located in the center of the main five bays, topped by a transom window and gabled pediment, and flanked by sidelight windows. The interior, which has undergone much alteration due to varied uses, still retains some of its original features; the 11 guest rooms all come in classic style with high ceilings, four-poster beds, and period furnishings.

The house is most notable as the home of Edward Rutledge (the younger brother of John Rutledge), a signer of the United States Declaration of Independence. Rutledge, a South Carolina native, was trained in England in the law, and had by the time of the American Revolution established a law practice in Charleston. He served in the First and Second Continental Congresses, and spent time during the American Revolutionary War as a prisoner of war, having been captured in the 1780 Siege of Charleston. He served as Governor of South Carolina from 1798 to his death in 1800.
Cathedral of St. John the Baptist

5) Cathedral of St. John the Baptist

The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston. The first brownstone cathedral was built in 1854 and named the Cathedral of Saint John and Saint Finbar. It burned down in a great fire in December 1861. After being rebuilt it was renamed the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. It is actually built on the foundation of the previous cathedral. Architect Patrick Keely designed both the original cathedral and its replacement.

The Cathedral seats 720 people and is noted for its beautiful stained glass, hand–painted Stations of the Cross, and neo-gothic architecture. The cornerstone was laid in 1890, and the church opened in 1907. The spire was not built at the time due to the lack of funds during the construction of the cathedral and its numerous renovations. The church was finally completed on March 25, 2010, with the addition of the steeple and bells.

Why You Should Visit:
To admire one of the most beautiful churches in N America – the stained-glass one-of-a-kind windows, the alter, and the architecture are all spectacular.

Try to go on a sunny day to get the most from the glass windows and their patterns.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 9am-4pm
Suggested donation: $2
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Unitarian Church in Charleston

6) Unitarian Church in Charleston

The Unitarian Church in Charleston claims to be the oldest Unitarian church in the Southern USA. In any case, it is the second oldest church in downtown Charleston. Its construction began in 1772 when the Society of Dissenters (now known as the Circular Congregational Church) needed more space than its Meeting Street location could provide. It was nearly complete in 1776 when the Revolutionary War began, finally being repaired and officially dedicated in 1787. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1973. The interior is amazing with painted glass windows. The church is active and it also has an interesting garden and a graveyard.

Why You Should Visit:
The sanctuary is lovely; the intentionally overgrown cemetery (free to visit if gates are open) is a serene place to stroll or sit and reflect.
Pathways are well kept while maintaining the wild beauty that draws you in.

Make sure you swing through the church itself when docents are available – they put on a pretty great tour and are very helpful for other recommendations for things to do in town.

Opening Hours:
[Church Tours] Fri, Sat: 10am-1pm; Sun: 12:30-3pm (Sep through mid-June)
[Churchyard] Mon-Thu: 8am-4pm; Fri-Sun: 9am-5pm
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Old Charleston Jail

7) Old Charleston Jail

The Old County Jail was operational from 1802 until 1939 and housed Charleston's most infamous criminals, and, during the Civil War the federal prisoners of war. Over the years, The Old Charlesto Jail housed a great variety of inmates. John and Lavinia Fisher, and other members of their gang, convicted of highway robbery in the Charleston Neck region were imprisoned here in 1819 to 1820. Some of the 19th-century high-sea pirates were jailed here while they awaited hanging. During the Civil War, Confederate and Federal prisoners of war were incarcerated here. The Old Charleston Jail is one of the historically significant buildings within the Charleston Old and Historic District.

In recent years Old Charleston Jail has been a popular tourist spot after it has been featured in a number of television shows including Travel Channel, Food Network, Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures, and Ghost Brothers. Guided tours are available to learn its history and the ghost stories associated with the jail.
Old Marine Hospital

8) Old Marine Hospital

The Old Marine Hospital is located in the historic center of Charleston, on the east side of Franklin Street, just south of the Old Charleston Jail. Built 1831-33 to a design by the well known South Carolina architect Robert Mills who is also the architect of the first Washington Monument, located in Baltimore, Maryland, as well as the better known monument to the first president in the nation's capital, Washington, DC. Robert Mills is sometimes said to be the first native-born American to be professionally trained as an architect.

The Old Marine Hospital was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1973 for its association with Robert Mills, and as a high-quality example of Gothic Revival architecture. It is a two-story masonry structure, with a hip roof and a raised, arcaded basement that is a characteristic Mills element.

The hospital was built as a public facility for the treatment of sick sailors and other transient persons. The City of Charleston undertook its operation in 1834, charging arriving ships a fee to support its operation. During the Civil War, it was used for Confederate forces as well as seamen. It was badly damaged by Union bombardment.

From 1866 to 1870, the Episcopal Church ran a school for African American children in the building. In 1895 to 1939, it was the home of the Jenkins Orphanage for young African American children.

The building has been declared a National Historic Landmark and one of the African American Historic Places in South Carolina.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Colonial Lake

9) Colonial Lake

Colonial Lake is a tidal pond in Charleston, South Carolina with wide walkways around it. The area is used as a park. For many years the lake was known as the Rutledge Street Pond or simply "The Pond." It acquired the name Colonial Lake in 1881, in honor of the "Colonial Commons" established in 1768. After the promenade was built around the lake and plantings put in, the area became a site for boating and fishing.

Colonial Lake is a great space to sit down, relax, and take a break from your sightseeing. The area around the lake is nicely maintained and manicured with trees, plants, and flowers so you can really enjoy the water and fresh air. The area is very peaceful.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

Walking Tours in Charleston, South Carolina

Create Your Own Walk in Charleston

Create Your Own Walk in Charleston

Creating your own self-guided walk in Charleston is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Historical Houses Tour

Historical Houses Tour

Charleston is steeped in history. Walking the colorful, narrow cobblestone streets of one of America's oldest towns, with its stunningly preserved colonial homes, you can see its story play out before your eyes practically everywhere you turn. Indeed, Charleston is among the most celebrated places in the U.S. to explore fine examples of American architecture and its progression through time.
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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.3 Km or 2.7 Miles
Downtown Religious Sites Tour

Downtown Religious Sites Tour

Charleston is also sometimes called the Holy City. That is because it is the home of a large number of churches. The city has many outstanding and fascinating religious structures. Take this self guided walk to see the most popular churches in Downtown Charleston.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.3 Km or 0.8 Miles
Charleston Introduction Walking Tour

Charleston Introduction Walking Tour

A popular tourist destination and a major port city in South Carolina, Charleston is fit to impress anyone with its Southern charm, friendliness, and rich history. Founded in 1670 as Charles Town, honoring King Charles II of England, this was the first comprehensively planned town in America.

The city's significance in American history is tied to its role as a key slave trading port. The...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 Km or 1.7 Miles
French Quarter Walking Tour

French Quarter Walking Tour

A historic district in downtown Charleston, The French Quarter is named so for the high concentration of French merchants that once lived in the area and left their mark on it. The name was coined in 1973, when preservation efforts began for warehouse buildings on the Lodge Alley block. That same year the district was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The busy neighbourhood...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.6 Km or 1 Miles