Sunday, July 17, 2011

Roots in the South: We Visit Charleston

I married into a family with deep Charleston roots.  Woven into the history of that beautiful city is a much more recent family history tied to happy memories and cherished places.

In early July, we took a little trip to Charleston to revisit some of those places with Coty's parents.  Matthew took along his video camera and filmed both Grammie and Bapa telling stories of their growing up years on site at MacLaura Hall, Dunneman Avenue, Radcliffe Street, former movie theatres on King Street, and of course, 64 Rutledge.

First are scenes from MacLaura Hall, the beautiful home on the Ashley River, built by Coty's grandparents.  C has lots of memories of vacation visits there as a kid, sleeping on the porch, fishing in the lakes, visiting with cousins, drinking a cold Coke from Granddad's refrigerator in the little house...

This beautiful deck overlooking the marsh and river is an addition from the time Mamma lived there.  The new owner has made many changes to the house, but always with a view with connecting to the history and particular geography of this lovely old home.

Coty remembers fishing in this lake - and we heard stories from Grammie about the alligator found in it and the ducks her father would feed each day.

These gates were custom designed for the front entrance to the property.  Though they now stand on either side of the driveway to the house, they once stood along the highway and marked the entrance to the property.  Apparently, it was rather a jungle when Coty's grandparents moved there and they did most of the work themselves to transform it into a stunning place with azaleas reflecting in the black water of the lakes in the spring, paths through the woods which Coty's grandmother, Mamma, helped clear with a machete, and a big vegetable garden on the "island".

Mamma was an amazing woman with more energy in her 90's than most people have at much younger ages.  She could outwork most anyone.  One of my memories of her was walking the path through the woods to the garden and her, picking up sticks and branches that had fallen in the path and tossing them back into the woods.  She kept her paths clear for walking.  She stayed busy, working hard to make her home and property a place of lasting beauty.  That's probably why she lived so long.  The evening after we visited MacLaura Hall, we had dinner with the woman that cared for her in her last years.  Dear Mrs. Pierce is now living in an assisted living home, said of Mamma, "Oh, everyone just fell in love with Miz Canaday."

On King Street - one of the old movie theatres that Coty's folks remembered going to is now an Urban Outfitters.  The other theatres are still there, living on as other assorted shops.  I think only one of them is still a theatre.  They remember walking a few blocks and watching movies for a nickel.

64 Rutledge - the house where Grammie lived from the time she was 8 til she went away to college.  It is a beautiful old Charleston home with wide wrap-around porches on two floors, very high ceilings, and lovely old wood floors.  

Arrangements had been made with the current owner to visit the house.  Dan was so gracious and had lots of questions for Grammie about what the house was like when she lived there.

The living room chandelier was a gas chandelier, imported from Germany.  Grammie remembers her mother being very proud of it.  It's now been wired for electricity.

I love these fireplace inserts and tile surrounds.  These are the old coal burning fireplaces and Grammie says this is the tile she remembers.  There were different colors in other rooms.

Overlooking the neighborhood from the second floor porch and reminiscing with Dan about who lived where when.

What a beautiful old home it is.  It is actually for sale now.  I sure hope whoever buys it has a sense of history and will appreciate how much this place has been lived in and loved.

875 Rutledge (below) - the house where Grammie was born.  Yes, in that house, not a hospital.

And finally, not family history, but a fun little cafe where we ate lunch at the end of our filming in Charleston.

We ate the biggest BLT's I've ever seen and some really delicious corn crab soup.  A tasty way to end our Charleston visit.  Hungry boys were happy.


Kristi said...

So fun to read and catch up!! I love family history :).

Susan said...

It's such a different world from the one I know, and you make it so interesting and appealing! I've never wanted to go south--because of the humidity--but you make it tempting!

(I know I'm raving and repeating myself, but I really do love to read people's stories!)