Charleston -- A National Register of Historic Places Travel ItineraryCharleston -- A National Register of Historic Places Travel ItineraryCharleston -- A Naitonal Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary
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Charelston City Hall and St. Michaels Church, two of the community and religious buildings featured in this itinerary.
Photograph by Beth Grosvenor Boland

The National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places and the City of Charleston, South Carolina, proudly invite you to discover Historic Charleston's Religious and Community Buildings. Charleston sits on a narrow peninsula where the Ashley and Cooper Rivers meet as they flow into the Atlantic Ocean. The community named for King Charles of England was established in 1670, became the center of the Carolina colony, the eighth state to join the Union, and the cultural center of the antebellum South. Charleston was the destination for peoples throughout Europe, Africa, and the Carribean, who have collectively shaped this unique region. This National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary explores Charleston's rich heritage using 43 historic places that reflect over 300 years of history, from the early Walled City of the British colony, through the prosperous growth of the shipping industry and surrounding plantations, its role in the events leading up to the Civil War, the resurgence of the community during the late 19th century, and the establishment of one of the most complete and intact historic districts in
the country.

The city of Charleston is already a well-known tourist destination because of its history and pioneering efforts in preservation. This itinerary focuses on the variety of buildings that tell the stories of its religious and community history. Numerous religious denominations have been active in Charleston for centuries. Beautiful St. Philip's Episcopal Church was the first Anglican congregation established south of Virginia. Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim is the country's second oldest synagogue and the birthplace of the American Reform Judaism movement. The itinerary also includes less well-known churches which

Historic view of Charleston City Hall and St. Michael's, circa 1866-1900
From the photographic collections of the South Carolina Historical Society, 39/007/068
represent the spiritual diversity that the city was built upon, such as the Emanuel AME Church, the oldest African Methodist Episcopal church in the South, First Scots Presbyterian, established in 1731 by 12 Scottish families, and St. Mary's, the first Roman Catholic Church in the Carolinas and Georgia. The majority of Charleston's public and community buildings reflect a time when it was one of the wealthiest and most important port cities of the colonies and young country. Major events that shaped the future of the colony took place at the Exchange. The Market Hall and Sheds provided fresh meat and produce for the same city dwellers that formed social and benevolent groups such as the South Carolina Society Hall and the German Friendly Society. St. Michael's Episcopal Church, the United States Post Office, the Charleston County Courthouse, and Charleston City Hall form the city's civic center, known as the Four Corners of the Law.

Historic Charleston's Religious and Community Buildings offers numerous ways to discover the historic properties that played important roles in the establishment of Charleston's civic, cultural, and spiritual community. Each property features a brief description of the site's significance, color and historic photographs, and public accessibility information. At the bottom of each page, the visitor will also find a navigation bar containing links to three essays concerning Charleston and Preservation, Religious Architecture, and Community History. These essays provide historical background, or "contexts," for many of the sites included in the itinerary. The itinerary can be viewed online, or printed out for use by visitors to Charleston.

Created through a partnership between the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places, the City of Charleston's Department of Planning and Urban Development, the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers (NCSHPO), and the National Alliance of Preservation Commissions (NAPC), Historic Charleston's Religious and Community Buildings is the third example of a new and exciting cooperative project. As part of the Department of the Interior's strategy to revitalize communities by promoting public awareness of history and encouraging tourists to visit historic places throughout the nation, the National Register of Historic Places is cooperating with communities, regions,

Photograph by Jack Boucher, courtesy of HABS

and Heritage Areas throughout the United States to create online travel itineraries. Using places listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the itineraries help potential visitors plan their next trip by highlighting the amazing diversity of this country's historic places and supplying accessibility information for each featured site. In the Learn More section, the itineraries link to regional and local web sites that provide visitors with further information regarding cultural events, special activities, and lodging and dining possibilities. Visitors may be intersted in Historic Hotels of America, a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, located in Charleston.

Charleston is the third of a number of communities and regions that have worked directly with the National Register of Historic Places to create travel itineraries. The National Register of Historic Places and the City of Charleston hope you enjoy this virtual travel itinerary of the city's historic resources. If you have any comments or questions, please just click on the provided e-mail address, "comments or questions" located at the bottom of each page.

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