A Guided Tour of the "Holy City"
It is possible to learn about a particular city with a little internet research and reading online. However it is way more interesting to walk the city with a guided tour and hear the history and stories first hand. It is even more interesting to hear those stories when your tour guide is a 13th generation resident of the city, whose family history dates back to the 1700’s. So with Betsy’s parents in town we decided that was the route we would take to learn more about the history of Charleston.
There were many guided tours available when Betsy looked online. Actually we learned from our guide that there are approximately 550 registered and licensed tour guides in the city. For some reason, The History of Charleston Walking Tours caught Betsy’s attention. And more importantly they had openings for the next day.
We met our tour guide, Anne, on the steps in front of the Custom House. The U.S. Custom House construction began in 1853, but was interrupted in 1859 due to costs and the possibility of South Carolina's secession from the Union. After the Civil War, construction was restarted in 1870 and completed in 1879. Anne and her sister Martha are the official tour guides for the History of Charleston Walking Tours company. They are both extremely knowledgable and share stories that have passed down for generations in their family. Our 10:00 AM tour on this particular Monday allowed Anne to share her knowledge with us over the next two hours. The city limits the number of people on any one walking tour to 20 people. We had 17 people on our tour which is a good size for the guide, as well as the guests.
Anne kept the tour moving at a comfortable pace for everyone with ample opportunity for questions and plenty of photo ops for Betsy and her camera. The tour covered everything from historical architecture; famous, and not so famous, people; small alleys in the city; and significant churches and buildings in the city. When the tour was complete, we ended in the courtyard of the home where Anne grew up and her parents still reside. We were greeted with lemonade and a collection of books and antique maps of the city. In 1990, Prince Charles was a guest in this same courtyard during his visit to Charleston. Anne’s parents also run a small Bed and Breakfast in the two kitchen houses in the back yard. We would highly recommend booking one of Anne's tours, by clicking here.
Tom, Marsha, Betsy and I all enjoyed this unique look into the history of Charleston and the way Anne presented it to us. After the tour and lemonade, we stopped for lunch at the Brown Dog Deli, a place that was not only on the Find Me Gluten Free app we use so much, but also a suggested lunch stop from Anne. When a place appears on two resources like that, we almost feel like we have to stop in. After lunch, we spent the next couple of hours walking the streets of Charleston, armed with the knowledge we had gained from Anne on our tour. We all seemed a little more aware of the architecture of the homes as we walked. We also went back and took a second, closer look at such places as Rainbow Row and the Mansions that overlook the battery wall on the river.
We all enjoyed the knowledge we had gained on the tour and basked in the charm of Charleston, which we are sure was enough to draw us back for another visit to this Southern City.