Showing posts with label Thomas Savage. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Thomas Savage. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

High Time in the Low Country

Drayton Hall.
Photo:  Historic American Building Survey.
Charleston, South Carolina, is a very picturesque and unique city.  Charles Town, named for King Charles II, was established as a community in 1670 by English settlers from Bermuda, on the west bank of the Ashley River.  Soon, it relocated further down to its present location, at the confluence of the Ashley and Cooper rivers which flow together into the Atlantic Ocean.  Although the site first made it suseptible to attacks from Spain, France, Native Americans, and pirates, the location enabled 18th century Charleston to become the hub of Atlantic trade for the southern colonies and the wealthiest city south of Philadelphia.
The Great Hall of Drayton Hall, built about 1740, one of the finest examples of Georgian architecture inspired by Andrea Palladio in the United States.  The property was a cattle ranch before becoming a rice plantation.  It is remarkably preserved with few changes.  For more information about visiting this unique property, see the website, www.draytonhall.org/
Photo:  Historic American Building Survey.
Middleton Place is considered America's oldest landscaped gardens, with camillias thought to be the first in this country.  Henry Middleton was known to have owned a 1737-8 translation of THE FOUR BOOKS OF ARCHITECTURE by Andrea Palladio.  Most of the original house was burned in 1865 by Union troops, but the gentleman's guest quarters wing remains;  it was renovated in 1869 and given distinctive Dutch gable ends.  Information about visiting this unique property can be seen at the website, www.middletonplace.org/
Photo:  Middleton Place.

Deer skins, used for a wide range of products from clothing to book bindings, were the basis of Charleston's early economy.  Tea, silk, rice and indigo were cash crops that bolstered the shipping industry, along with the slave trade.  The 1793 invention of the cotton gin made that crop South Carolina's major export.
The Miles Brewton House, still in private ownership, is another Palladio influenced house, 1765-69.  The accessory gothick building to the right is a carriage house with the facade added in the second quarter of the 19th century; there are additional dependencies beyond.
Photo:  Historic American Building Survey.
The Dining Room of the Miles Brewton House.  The chandelier was added by a subsequent owner later in the 18th century.  During a recent restoration, remnants of the original blue painted paper with gilt decoration that adorned the cove ceiling were found and reproduced.
Photo:  Historic American Building Survey.
The great wealth brought social and cultural opportunities.  In 1736, the first theatre building in the United States was built in Charleston.  The Charleston Library Society was established in 1748 and the College of Charleston was established in 1770.  In 1798, The Bank of South Carolina, the second oldest building in the nation that was constructed as a bank, was established in Charleston.  The wealth was also reflected in some exceptional examples of architecture.
The Joseph Manigault House, built 1803, is open to the public as a house museum.  Information about visiting his property can be viewed at their website, www.charlestonmuseum.org/joseph-manigault-house
Photo:  Historic American Building Survey.
The Nathaniel Russell House, 1808, is also a house museum open to the public.  For more information, see their website at www.historiccharleston.org/experience/nrh/
Photo:  Historic American Building Survey.
Market Hall, built in 1841 to a classic Roman design by Edward Brickell White, replaced a 1788 building that burned.  The Pinckney family donated the property to the city, but stipulated that it would revert to the family if used for any other purpose.  Located at 188 Meeting Street, the adjoining sheds are still commercially used today.
Photo:  Historic American Building Survey.
After the Civil War, the economy of Charleston languished for decades.  But this financial downturn meant the preservation of blocks of historic buildings and provided the basis for a booming tourist industry, still strong even in the current economic climate.
The Sword Gate House, built in 1808 and located at 32 Legare Street, is still a private residence.  But it is offered for sale for $23,000,000.
Photo:  Historic American Building Survey.

The fascinating story of the early period of culture will be presented in a talk by Thomas Savage in an event sponsored by Decorative Arts Trust.  "High Time in the Low Country:  Charleston in the Eighteenth Century" will be presented Saturday, November 12, 2011, at 2 pm at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.  Admission to the talk is free with museum admission.  For more information about Decorative Arts Trust, see the website here.
Thomas Savage is shown here with two of his favorite Thomas Frye mezzotints.
Photo:  Laszlo Bodo, Winterthur.

Mr. Savage's book THE CHARLESTON INTERIOR is available for purchase at a discount with the option of free shipping here.

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