Research of Southern History- Sydney Long, Mary Hughes Lawrence, Maggie Mae

Hi all, this is Sydney Long and I chose to do my research project on the development of 6 Chalmers Street, from its time as one of the most successful slave markets to a modern-day museum honoring African-American history. This location stands out to me because it has endured so many vast changes and it has adapted to fit whatever the owner of the time intended the place to be. From housing an extremely successful slave mart to acting as an auto repair store and now a museum, I am fascinated with the building’s hidden history. So far in my research I have found that the building serves as a representation of Charlestonians view on African-American history and historic preservation. As an example, for several years the building was used as a site to sell meals that aligned with “slave recipes” which so clearly represents the ignorance that many Charlestonians held at the time, as this food was sold not even 100 years since the last slave was sold in the very same room. Another interesting connection my research has shown me was the influence of Susan Pringle Frost on the history of the Old Slave Mart Museum. I enjoyed our in class discussion on Frost surrounding her work creating the Preservation Society of Charleston, and my research made the connection that it was Frost herself who sold Miriam Wilson the Old Slave Mart, who would go on to renovate the location and open it for future generations to learn from.

Hey, I’m Mary Hughes Lawrence and I chose to do my research on the debutante ball. I am researching how this event has changed over time and negative stereotypes associated with this event. I chose to do this topic because I will be attending a debutante ball in my hometown this year and I will also be a debutante my junior year of college. I honestly did not know much about this topic until I started doing research. The only thing I really knew was that the debutantes had to wear a white wedding dress and gloves and the meaning of it was for girls to be presented to society. Through my research I have learned that the debutante society was extremely hard to get into and was often kept secret. To get in you had to be wealthy and have the right connections to the right people. In the past the debutante was to present daughters into society to get married, while today it is not like that and is more for community building, the experience, and to keep a tradition alive. While some of the traditions and customs of the debutante have changed, many have stayed the same. White dress and gloves, a waltz, a presentation of the girls, and roses have remained constant throughout the years. This event is present all over the United States but is really practiced in the South, a big debutante ball is right here in Charleston. Through my paper I am hoping to draw connections on how this event reflects southern culture as well refuting negative stereotypes associated with this event.

Hey everyone, I am Maggie May and I chose to do my research on changes within country music.  I am researching how soul and hillbilly music blended together in Nashville to help bridge both racial and cultural divides.  From the music of Charley Pride and Earl Scruggs, the sounds and image of country music changed to reflect the changes that were happening across the United States.  I chose this topic because I found it very interesting that people telling their stories through songs were able to bring people together and forge new relationships in the studios of several record labels.  I knew a small amount about this topic through many family members who lived in the hills of Virginia who remembered that they felt like people had a better understanding of who they were and what they stood for. I hope to discuss how these musicians provided a voice and created an identity for their people in country music while also reworking the music and the sound to reflect these new ideas coming onto the stage. These styles changed both studio sessions and on stage performances while bringing new light to what everyone assumed a fading craft. Through my paper, I am hoping to highlight how the genre and the country changed as a result of these newly incorporated styles.

All of our topics tackle different issues of race, identity, gender, and social classes. That being said, our topics all center around the development of southern identity through time and the acknowledgement of social classes’ influence on society. Sydney’s topic investigates the acknowledgement of African-American history, which has previously been intentionally covered up and hidden by wealthy white social classes. Due to civil rights movements and transferral of ownerships allowed for the once booming slave mart to now serve as a museum to honor a section of Southern race and identity. Mary Hughes’ topic discusses the debutante which is associated with an elite white community and young women. She discusses the history of this tradition and how it has changed over the years. Maggie’s topic discusses the changes in country music that helped change ideals within the nation itself.  She discusses the new sounds and genre that changed the music and brought people closer together.

Research of Southern History – Caitlin, Rebecca, and Abby


I am Rebecca Klagholz and have chosen to research how the ninth ward was negatively impacted during Hurricane Katrina. This topic piqued my interest because I have family who was affected by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and saw the impact first hand. I am very familiar with the New Orleans area and the depth of damage that was done by the hurricane. Some even claimed Hurricane Katrina to be the worst thing to happen to America since the Civil War. The ninth ward is a lower-income section of New Orleans that is primarily black. This section happened to be where the levee broke and underdown the most damage. As the ninth ward was in poverty, many of the primarily black residents did not have the resources to leave before the hurricane, leading to more deaths and many could not afford to rebuild. There is a history in the south, that has continued since slavery, where blacks continue to have less opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty and tragic events have more of an impact on their community; the negative consequences felt for years. In 2005, 9th ward residents lived in extreme poverty compared to other sections of New Orleans. I plan to argue discriminatory evidence was unveiled during Hurricane Katrina and the harmful conditions that still exist within the South. 

The importance of sisterhood in The Color Purple

I’m Caitlin Holliday, and for this project, I am researching the film The Color Purple, directed by Steven Spielberg. The story, originally published by Alice Walker, spans forty years, following the life of Celie, an African American woman who survives years of physical and sexual abuse at the hands of her father and husband Albert (Mister) Johnson. Despite her violent environment, Celie confides in other African American women, specifically Shug Avery, who allows her to come to terms with her sexuality. Although the South is stereotypically less progressive in terms of same-sex relationships, this realization becomes a turning point in the film, allowing Celie to find selfhood and independence, helping her escape years of abuse. I plan to argue that the film refutes gender and sexual stereotypes about the South. I decided to research this topic after reading excerpts from the novel in my Adverse Childhood Experiences class last year. Although the book is different from the film in a few ways, especially when it comes to Celie and Shug’s relationship, I was always very interested in watching the film adaptation. Some information that I already know that I hope to discuss in my paper includes the history of gender inequality in the South. This inequality perpetuated abuse, causing many African American women to suffer abuse in similar ways to Celie.  

My name is Abby Elmore, and I have chosen to research the Charleston Single House. I decided to pick this topic because the Charleston Single House is not only an integral piece of architecture in the Charleston area but also an authentic representation of Southern history and culture. Mannerisms unique to the South were developed because of the Charleston Single House. Concepts such as “Northside Manners”, a respect for privacy, and hosting/spending time on the porch arose in Southern life with the rise in popularity of the Charleston Single House. Similar to the origination of many Southern mannerisms and culture, the “piazza” of the Single House was thought to have originated in the West Indies, with Afro-Caribbean origins. An interesting fact about the Single House design was that it was constructed to prevent fires! The Charleston Single House exemplifies the resourcefulness of Charlestonians in response to the subtropical climate and narrow but deep house lots in the area. The Charleston Single House also has ties to Antebellum culture. The Single House would often act as the “Big House” for slave owning Charlestonians, with it being surrounded by servant/slave buildings. The simple architectural style of the Charleston Single House has deeply rooted ties to the Southern way of life.

While the Charleston Single House differs from both Rebecca and Caitlin’s, the overall collection of our topics can add to a reader’s understanding of the South. Each of our topics provides insights to the different aspects of the South.

Racial discrimination in the South connects both research topics. While The Color Purple focuses on gender inequalities throughout the story, the ninth ward during Hurricane Katrina displays the poverty and fewer opportunities the African American community faces. Although the primary focus of both papers is different, race plays a major role in the treatment of the characters in the film and those affected by Hurricane Katrina. In both instances, Black individuals had fewer opportunities to advance in society. For example, the Black women in The Color Purple worked primarily as housekeepers, with little opportunity to advance due to societal gender and racial norms. In terms of Hurricane Katrina, victims had less opportunity to pull themselves out of tragedy due to similar norms. In both instances, intersectionality plays a big role in the societal position of the characters in The Color Purple and the victims of Katrina. Both of these topics beg the question of whether these societal norms still exist in the contemporary South.

Research of Southern Culture – Elizabeth, Mary, and John

        My name is Elizabeth Clarke and I will be researching women in country music. I plan to utilize specific examples of female artists, such as Dolly Parton, to explain how popular stereotypes about the South are reinforced throughout the genre. I have grown up listening to country music, and have learned to appreciate it and the many great artists who have made contributions to the country music industry. It is important to me that female artists are recognized for the strides they have made, as well as for their notable achievements. I feel that my knowledge of country songs is pretty vast, but when it comes to the history of the genre, there is a lot for me to learn. I am interested in using my knowledge of songs and lyrics and applying it to what I have learned in Southern Studies class in order to display how southern stereotypes are confirmed and reinforced. In addition to using my previous knowledge, I will be using numerous resources and databases in order to ensure that I have adequate and reliable information to provide an engaging and insightful report to my reader.

        My name is Mary Connolly and I will be examining the film, Gone with the Wind. I chose to research this film for my project because it is one of the most historically recognized movies to depict Southern culture during the period of the Civil War. Scarlett O’Hara’s character was widely embraced by many Southern women because the nature of her character is ironically the antithesis of a “Southern belle.” She is strong headed like her father and is not blind to the Confederacy and its men. Moreover, the film has received many accolades including eight academy awards and was a box-office winner for more than 30 years. I wanted to learn more about how the South was portrayed and observe women during the antebellum through a media form. It can be more engaging to learn about history and the conflict of the war in a visual form, rather than simply reading about it in an article or book. I also am looking forward to understanding the mannerisms, clothing style, and way the people from this time spoke.  From my previous understanding of this movie, I knew that it takes place during the Civil War, which notably was one of the most potent times in American history. The film was created from the original publication of the novel, written by Margaret Mitchell in 1936. Through my viewing and analysis of the film, I will determine whether Scarlett O’Hara’s character represents the stereotypical Southern woman, or whether she would be considered a “bad-belle.” 

        My name is John Ducan and the artifact I chose to research was the film, “Big Fish” directed by Tim Burton based on the novel by Daniel Wallace. I chose to research this film as it was one I grew up with, it being a favorite of my parents, and a desire to learn more about the film from a Southern perspective. The film revolves around a man named Edward Bloom, on his deathbed, recounting crazy outlandish stories from his past to his son Will Bloom. The majority of the story happens in small towns and cities in Alabama. Not only is the location a very Southern one, but many of the themes explored in the movie are too. The central theme being storytelling and passing down of folk tales. Many of Edward Bloom’s stories either have mythological elements such as human giants in a circus or hard to believe circumstances such as single handedly infiltrating a North Korean camp and stealing information. These things fall in line with the popularity of folk tales in the South and the aspect of perhaps embellishing certain moments in recounting history that is sometimes associated with the South. As I mentioned earlier I had seen the film in the past but would like to revisit it to watch it as an older individual but also to re-examine the film from a cultural perspective.  

        The common thread between each of our group member’s artifacts is the emphasis of family in Southern culture. The concept of family is ingrained in every Southerner. The importance of family is universal but it maintains a special place in Southern culture. This is in part due to the South holding strong traditional values and views for a large duration of its history. In Dolly Parton’s song “Jolene,” Dolly sings about a woman named Jolene whose beauty is capable of stealing her husband away from her. Dolly begs Jolene to stay away, and states that “my happiness depends on you.” This song places importance on relationships as well as the dynamic that is popular in many southern households, including the belief that southern women must rely on men. Additionally, in the film Gone with the Wind, Scarlett O’Hara adopts the fierce and independent mindset of her father, while neglecting the stereotypical attributes of a Southern mother. Her relationship with her mother suffers because Scarlett does not mirror her mother’s innocent and femine demeanor. Lastly, in the film “Big Fish ”, the main character Will Bloom is attempting to rekindle a relationship with his father on his deathbed after falling out due to enduring his fathers outlandish tales all his life. He realizes during his father’s final days, how treasured his relationship with his father is and is finally at peace when he does pass away. While the relationships differ between each of our topics, all the topics highlight the importance the South places on familial bonds.


Our Research on Southern Culture

My name is Kylie Berman and I will be researching the civil rights movement, specifically focusing on the march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965, led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I chose to prove that this topic confirms stereotypes and popular assumptions about the south. My reasoning behind choosing this topic is that racism is still felt throughout the U.S south, even after the success of the Selma to Montgomery march. What came out of this march was the voting rights act of 1965 that outlawed the discriminatory voting practices adopted in many southern states after the civil war. The south, where racism was the most prevalent, is the origin of the civil rights movement. This movement and march showed that the stereotype of being racist was very much true and that the effects of racism were debilitating to African-Americans. The entire movement exemplified the persistence, determination, and hope of African-Americans in the south and their desire to create a just society for all Americans, despite skin color. 

​​My name is Maddie Arnold and I am researching and writing about the origins and history of churches in the Holy City – Charleston, South Carolina. In addition to researching the origins of these places, I also want to look into major events in their histories, (a prime example being the shooting at the AME church in 2015), and how these events have impacted the people and congregations involved with the churches. Another aspect that I want to look at is the variation amongst different branches of Christianity, learning about how each division worships and their more individual beliefs and structures. Finally, I want to find out more about how these churches are involved in the community today. Are they still active sites for worship? Do they serve are more of a museum or a historical site? Have they changed as time has passed and become more ‘politically correct’ or accepting? I have some personal knowledge of Christianity, having grown up in a religious southern family, as well as some knowledge of local churches from having lived in the area for three and a half years and getting to know the history of the city. I was interested in the topic because of my prior knowledge. I have gone on some historical tours since I moved to Charleston and I have spent years walking past numerous churches on a daily basis as I go about my day to day life, and I thought it would be interesting to learn more about the beautiful places I see every day.

My name is Francis Boscia and the topic that I am researching is bluegrass music. More specifically, I am focusing on what bluegrass music is, where it originated and how it relates to stereotypes about the South. For example, one of the “rules” of bluegrass music is that it is hillbilly music played by white southerners which is a very racial stereotype of the South. I chose this topic primarily because of my love of music and my musical background. A while ago I became interested in bluegrass music to the point where I bought my own banjo and began learning to play it. In case you’re wondering, I am not very good at it. Bluegrass music has a lot of gospel and Christian ties in it. There are many gospel songs that all preach the singer’s love for their Christianity (whatever branch that they practice). I hope to discuss more about the ways that bluegrass bands portray themselves and how that connects to stereotypes of the South. I also want to talk about the life of Bill Monroe who is said to be the “father” of bluegrass. Bluegrass music has origins in Scotland and Ireland, but Bill Monroe, who was born in Kentucky, “invented” bluegrass in the 1940’s.

The topics which the members of our group have chosen to research have some overlapping similarities and are connected in several ways. Francis’ research on bluegrass music contains aspects of religion, involving gospel music in the genre. This gospel music connects to Maddie’s topic of historic churches in the Charleston area. One of the specific aspects that she is researching is the history of predominantly black churches in the city, which connects to Kylie’s research on the Civil Rights movement and the march to Selma led by Martin Luther King Jr. Her research also connects to Kylie’s because of the strong religious influences that Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. used during his fight in the civil rights movement. However, Francis’ research has some strong contrast to Kylie’s. Bluegrass music was predominantly written and performed by white musicians, making it a little harder to relate to the Civil Rights movement and racism in general. Overall, these three topics demonstrate that there are a lot of overlapping factors between expansive aspects of southern culture.

Racial Segregation in the South Within Fashion and Education

Two slave children dressed in dirty, torn clothing.

My name is Greer Phillips and my research project is about the history of women’s fashion in the South. I have also decided to focus on how fashion was used as a form of discrimination against the Black community. In regards to discrimination with fashion, social class has always been held to a high importance within America with clothing and textiles being an important indicator of one’s class. Since the Colonial Era, specific textiles such as silk indicated a high social class and textiles such as calico indicated a low social class. Slaves were often dressed in the cheapest quality textiles and likely only received two pairs of clothes per year. Many slave owners chose to dress their domestic slaves in higher quality clothing than the other slaves since they would be seen by visitors. This is because the slaves were also seen as a representation of the family’s class so their clothing should be similar to what the family would wear. Fashion also changed drastically as women gained more rights and began working outside of the house. When this shift started to occur, women began wearing smaller hoop skirts, shorter dresses, and some even wore pants underneath their clothing.

My name is Colette O’Neill, and I’m a sophomore at the College of Charleston. For my research project, I’m researching the history of education in the Southern United States. The South has gone through many changes with its education system,

black only school.

especially after the Civil War. Antebellum South did not educate their African Americans. They did not feel as though they could be educated, which kept the racial and social classes quite separate. Some slaves, however, were able to be educated, like Frederick Douglass. After the Civil War, the South had to completely reconstruct their public education system to allow for African Americans to begin to be educated. This caused lots of controversy, and the African Americans were still not receiving an equal education compared to their white counterparts, as schools were segregated to “white only schools” and “black only schools”. Not only were there unequal opportunities inside the classrooms, but in the white schools, the curriculum was still teaching racism. The UDC made an article post-Civil War about how schools still need to teach the “correct” history and not make the North look like the “good” side (meaning they need to still make the South and its problematic history look as good as possible to keep the same Southern “values”). Schools did not become integrated

White only school

and more equal until much later into the 1900s. There are still problems today with how the education system teaches its students about the South and even the racist tendencies of how the subject material is presented which only adds fuel to the racist stereotype of the Southern United States.

My name is Hayley Nicholls and my final research project will be addressing the issues of segregation and racism throughout history at the College of Charleston. I will specifically be looking into the desegregation of the college, and the admittance of the first African American students at the College of Charleston. I found this topic very interesting and decided to research it, because it surprised me that African Americans have only been attending CofC for about 50 years now. I did not know a lot of this information previously, and it has been very interesting to see how my college was involved in many of these historical issues, and how much the institution has changed over time. Within this project, I will dive into the history of the college and discuss the founding of the college as well as the involvement of slave labor in the construction of the campus. I will then examine CofC’s reluctance to admit African American students, and what happened after they finally made the decision to desegregate the campus. Within my paper I will look into the experiences of many of the first African American

Eddie Gan away, first African American CofC graduate (class of 71’)

students to attend the college, and what type of treatment they received. Utilizing all of my sources and research, I will argue how these events strengthen the stereotypes in the South regarding the attitudes of white individuals and their discrimination towards African Americans. However, I will also address how the college has presently made an effort to refute these stereotypes and make the campus a more diverse and inclusive environment. 

Social class has always been a huge factor in society. People have been judged based on their appearance for centuries, and more times than not, fashion has played a role in what society deems as “proper”. African Americans, historically, have not been able to access better clothing and high class textiles because they have not been able to afford them. This is due to the fact that African Americans were not allowed in schools to be educated so they could afford better clothing. Whether or not you received a higher education has always been a factor in how much money you’d be able to make in your career. The College of Charleston, and many of the other colleges and universities in the South, did not allow African Americans to receive a higher education, which led to them not being able to afford better clothing. This meant that the black community had a much harder time fighting against discrimination and oppression, since they were viewed as inferior lower class citizens in comparison to the white population.

Annie and Evelyn Blog Post

Hello, my name is Evelyn Sanchez, and for this research project I will be analyzing the debate over the symbolism and display of confederate flags and how, by analyzing both sides of the argument, I can refute, but also confirm, stereotypes and popular assumptions about the south. I chose to investigate this topic because it is one that has been heavily prevalent here in Charleston, and because, as a southerner, I have been exposed to both viewpoints on this issue and feel like both sides have a competitive argument to make. My end goal with this project is to be able to determine whether one side makes a more convincing argument than the other. So far, I know that the confederate flag was representative of the confederate union of states that seceded during the civil war era and the reason that many people find it offensive is because they feel like it is meant to be a symbol of white supremacy and extremist views on slavery and its defense. On the other hand, people who argue for its display center on the fact that the flag wasn’t the actual symbol of the union but instead it was the flag used in battle, and therefore has a completely different meaning behind it than most people think.

My name is Annie Sautner and for this project I chose the topic of John C. Calhoun’s Positive Good speech to congress and how the speech shows us why harmful beliefs persist within Southern Culture. I chose this topic because while we looked at this speech during class, I found Calhoun’s arguments behind why slavery is beneficial very interesting. I think this speech is a great example of how harmful beliefs persist within the South because Calhoun justifies that human beings’ freedom and humanity being stripped from them as beneficial to the south and the white high-class. Calhoun also argues that slaves in other countries have it worse than the African American slaves in the South. I think this is one of the many examples in Calhoun’s speech that really emphasize harmful beliefs persisting in Southern Culture because Calhoun makes it seem like because others have it worse, slavery in the South is not such a bad thing. I also want to include how Historians have denied the myth that the south had nearly abolished slavery by the end of the American Revolution because it shows that Slavery in the South was present for much longer than many think. In terms of these belief persisting in the south today, I think that the confederate flag is a perfect example of that because many southerners still hang the flag proudly, even though the flag represents racists idea and advocation for slavery in many people’s eyes. 

Right away, it is evident that both of our topics have a common foundation in that the issues that we are researching stem from ideas that have been prevalent in the south for centuries, but that nowadays have been put up for debate and whose relevancy is being questioned. One half of the confederate flag stand is centered on how people perceive it as a racist symbol, the basis of this is heavily rooted in the extremist ideas that people in positions of power in our county have held for centuries. One of these examples being the Positive Good speech by John C Calhoun. Although this speech was not directly tied to the confederate flag issue, the general feeling of his viewpoints emphasizes why so many people find offense in its symbolism today. The great impact that these issues have on the citizens of Charleston are also greatly tied together. Just in the last couple of years, a statue of Calhoun and a confederate flag have been removed from public display because of how immense an aversion people felt towards them. 


Written by Annie and Evelyn.

Ava and Liz group blog

I’m Ava and I am a freshman this year. I am also from Ohio, a northerner. Being from Ohio I am an Ohio State fan who does not really follow football but I know about the Big 10 Conference mostly due to geographic location and family tradition. Something about the culture of sports in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) is fascinating to me. The way people dress for the games and the way they act at tailgates, just to name a few.  The way they do sports is just different from the Big 10. So, I chose to do my research and create my paper on SEC football and ​​how SEC football fans confirm the stereotype that southerners hold firm in their beliefs. I will prove this through discussing traditions such as tailgating and SEC history and also by comparing SEC fan’s attitudes to traditional southern voting attitudes. Some similar mentalities, such as “us vs them”, can be seen within politics and the football fandom. Southern football fans and voters often identify with their chosen “team” (whether it be on the field or a political party). I think this is a very interesting relationship to discuss and look into the similarities and how old political traditions have rubbed off onto SEC fan’s attitudes towards the sport and their team. 

The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to SEC Football Season

I’m Liz Williams, a freshman. I’m from Georgia, so I grew up immersed in Southern culture. One of the parts of Southern culture that I did not participate in, but was constantly surrounded by, was hunting. My uncle, cousins, friends, and classmates were often heard talking about a Saturday morning spent hunting for deer, ducks, hogs, and a few other forest dwelling creatures. I often ate these animals at group events, and even more often saw their heads up on the wall. And the people who weren’t avid hunters still owned a gun or two. Guns, for better or worse, are an integral part of Southern culture. It’s a stereotype, but one that is based in reality. The topic I want to explore is how hunting culture contributes to the idealization of gun ownership and the avid defense of the interpretation of the second amendment that says that all citizens need guns to protect themselves. I know that the types of guns used for hunting (bolt-action rifles and shotguns) are disproportionately distributed in the rural, conservative areas, of which the south has an abundance. I know that conservatives are more likely to defend gun ownership. And I know that guns cause a lot of death in the United States. This is why I chose this topic. Most gun related deaths aren’t done with single shot rifles. But the insistence upon having guns, especially in the home, expands not just to hunting guns, but handguns, semi-automatics, and assault rifles. I want to explore this topic because I want to know how many people actually want their guns just for hunting, and how many want them for other purposes. 

Sunday hunting may finally go through this month | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

So what are the similarities between our two topics? The most obvious is that they are both recreational sports. They can be competitive and form camaraderie. A less obvious similarity is that they are leisurely activities that divide people more than they should. Both football and hunting seem inconsequential, but they create animosity between people on one side and those on the other. In football, there is a divide between fans of different teams. In hunting, there is a divide between those who argue for the benefits of hunting, and those that argue the consequences. Both of these show up politically as well. Football is almost a mirror of politics. It shows how easily people can be caught up in the “us vs them” mentality and do anything to stay dedicated to what they believe in. Hunting, especially as it relates to gun ownership, is a right vs left issue. It was mentioned earlier how conservative areas have more hunting weapons, and how conservative people are more ardent defenders of gun rights.

The Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon

Some Fun Facts of the Building

I went to the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon on 22 E Bay Street, in Charleston, SC. It was really cool. While I was there, I learned about the wild history of the building. The tour guide talked about how the building was made to stand out and be seen by people walking around Charleston. It was built in 1771 by slave labor, as most of everything was in the South back in the day. Each brick was made by hand, one at a time, and in some of the bricks, you could still see fingerprints and handprints left behind from the people who were unfortunately forced to build it. The most defining feature, the arches, were made with tons of bricks and tons of prayers, and after numerous hurricanes and earthquakes, they are still holding up beautifully today.

For years, the building was used as storage, and interestingly enough, the Americans managed to stuff seven tons of gunpowder into a makeshift room in the building for twenty years during the American Revolution. Right after it was first hidden, the British took over the building and turned it into a dungeon. During their entire time in the building, the British did not find the room with all the gunpowder. After the war, they left, of course, and the gunpowder went back to its original American owners.

Inside the Building

When you enter, you are greeted by a small gift shop right in front of you. On either side are registers where you buy your tickets for the tour. After buying your tickets, you are told to go to the elevator, which brings you to the basement, A.K.A, the dungeon (dun, dun, dunnnn). Jokes aside, the basement was really cool. You go down there and see the arches first (and they aren’t very tall, so you may want to duck your head if you’re tall). As you walk around more, you begin to see the mannequins they have to show the types of people who were down there, and how the curators think the dungeon was set up under British control.

Me and Gus (yes, that is his actual name)

This is the fake wall of the room where the seven tons of gun powder was that was hidden from the British


Interpreting the Building

The tour guide did a fantastic job explaining how slavery was the backbone of Charleston infrastructure and development. Unfortunately, most, if not all, of the historical buildings in the downtown area were built from enslaved people (including the College of Charleston that I attend), which of course, is not okay, but that was how the South was run back then. We have talked about this numerous times in the Southern Studies course I am taking. We have read numerous articles and poems that discuss what life was like for those who were enslaved, and life was obviously not easy for them. I am very glad that the tour guide made sure to talk about the darker history behind the building, including the literal slave market that took place outside the building because hosting it inside was just “too expensive” for the plantation owners.

The site definitely reflects the historical southern stereotype of the South, with strong ties to slavery, racism, plantations, and war. The site is clearly an important part of Charleston’s identity, and you can surely tell by looking at its colonial style features, along with the fact that it was such a major part of the city. 

Overall, this historical site tells such a huge story of the city of Charleston. This building has been through a lot, just like many of the people who have been involved with it throughout Charleston’s history. I highly recommend a visit here if you are in the Charleston area and want to learn more about this beautiful city’s crazy history.

The History of Rainbow Row


Rainbow Row is a series of historical homes on East Bay Street that have a distinct paint pattern of colorful pastels. These houses are one of Charleston’s most visited tourist attractions and one of the first things that come to mind when picturing the city. There are 13 separate houses that include colors like salmon, turquoise, purple, and yellow. Not only are they a number of beautiful pastel colors but being historic houses, have incredibly detailed wooden shutters, colonial doors, and large windows.

This location interested me for my research as it truly is one of the most visually stunning parts of Charleston while also having a story I was determined to learn more about. Being in one of the most historically rich cities in the country, Rainbow Row is bound to have a rich history itself. The first of these houses were built in 1740 as a location for British and other colonial merchants to live and work out of close to the water. The mid and late 18th century served as an important time in South Carolina’s history and even more for Charleston. It was one of the largest ports in the colonies and home of the some of the most wealthy and influential colonists at the time. The South was prospering from trade and profit of the slave trade and Charleston was at the forefront of this economic boom. As the decades passed, Rainbow Row seemed to reflect the state of the South at whatever moment in time. Like the ruin the South was in after the Civil War, the houses on East Bay were neglected and were allowed to devolve into a state of ruin. They began to start to look the way they do today in 1931 when a Charleston couple purchased some of the homes and decided to give them a pastel paint job in an effort to revitalize the neighborhood (Magnus 2017). Their neighbors began to follow suit which resulted in what we know as Rainbow Row today.

The focus on the site today remains its pleasing aesthetics and beautiful colors and the depiction of the homes and the way they are marketed match this. Being the homes of wealthy merchants during the colonial period does open up the possibility of them being home to colonists profiting off the trade of human lives. Also the likelihood that these homes were constructed using slave labor is very high. The slave trade to this day still presents itself in many ways in Charleston with another popular tourist site being “the Old Slave Market”. I do not believe that the people who run the website of Rainbow Row or any other form of advertisement of the attraction attempt to hide this part of Charleston’s history and the Row’s possible tie to it but also do not seem to make an effort to make it aware or acknowledge it.

The city of Charleston is a good representation of the history of the South and Rainbow Row is an extension of the representation. While the color choice of some of the homes perhaps does not match with its colonial history, much of the homes still look very similar to how they would have looked centuries ago. I believe this a reinforcement of the Southern stereotype of being stuck in the past which can either be a positive or negative thing. While a large portion of this nostalgia is tainted by the South’s racist and violent past, Rainbow Row is an example, in my opinion, of a good return to the past and celebrating Southern architectural beauty.

When conducting research and taking notes on the site, I was brought back to many facts and details we had discussed in class previously. An example of this was when I considered that these homes were certainly either home to slaves or the place many had worked during ante-bellum Charleston. I thought back to the “Public History in the South” unit where one NPR article, “Looking ‘Beyond the Big House’ And Into The Lives Of Slaves”, discusses this very topic of remembering the role of enslaved people in these historic colonial homes. Earlier when I discussed the absence of any mention of slave labor or credit, the main topic of this article, an effort to recognize the hidden sacrifices slaves made to much of colonial Charleston through tours, would have been a perfect solution to this issue (McCammon 2017).

Works Cited

Magnus, Traci. “The Captivating History of Rainbow Row.” The Captivating History of Rainbow Row |, 28 Sept. 2017,

McCammon, Sarah. “Looking ‘beyond the Big House’ and into the Lives of Slaves.” NPR, NPR, 13 Sept. 2017,




Charles Town Landing

The site that I chose to go visit is Charles Towne Landing. This site is made to commemorate the place where the Europeans first landed in South Carolina in 1670. Being there felt like a peaceful retreat away from the bustle of city life. When one reaches the far side of the property, the downtown area, West Ashley, I-26, and the Ravenel bridge are clearly visible over the water. Despite being in a widely populated area and only about ten minutes from downtown Charleston, the site makes one feel like they stepped back in time. The entrance is lined with flowering trees and open ponds that are home to much wildlife. Within the site is found a great many different structures, animals, and historical artifacts aimed at teaching visitors about life back when people first arrived in Charleston, the system of slavery and the effects it had on the area, the relevance of the Native American peoples, and war and fighting techniques. At Charles town landing I was able to experience the old time-y feel of being on a plantation and walking up under the oaks towards the main house. Also I got to see where the slave graveyard was located and really acknowledge that much of the structural work of the location is thanks to the hard work of formerly enslaved African Americans who helped build, maintain, and uphold the place.

The owners of the plantation nowadays make a conscious effort to recognize the peoples that once lived there, and not just the relevance of the oversees settlers. Before moving to the Downtown Charleston area, formerly known as Oyster Point, the English settlers resided on Charles Town Landing. When they arrived though, they were not alone, a Native American tribe already lived there, and they offered a peace agreement to the settlers. There is a large pole that is about 20 feet tall, now located on Charles Town Landing called, “The Landing Brave”, that not only only represents the Natives, but also their culture. Carved into the pole itself is the image of a former Native American Chief. This pole is placed at the entrance to the mini zoo/ animal exhibition, and because the animals are a popular stop, the pole is assured its deserved recognition as people take a moment to take it in and appreciate its beauty.

The vast beauty of the site, and the fact that there is importance placed not just on one aspect of early southern life, but many different parts of it, make this site worthy enough to visit. It really is a great representation of the south considering it was the first stop for old world travelers to this state, and there is so much to learn about trading routes, African Americans, and the economy here from that time as well.

One of the parts of the site that I enjoyed the most was where there was a boat located that is intended to replicate the vessels used for trade and transportation in the Charleston area at that time. When I arrived to that part, there was even a guide waiting there for us ready and able to offer any information that we wanted to inquire about along with a sign that details trading in the area and its importance.

I believe that because the site makes a great attempt to acknowledge and represent all the peoples and aspects that were present there, that it is complete and truthful. Unlike other historic sites in the area, this place did not attempt to hide ugly truths behind beautiful scenery, instead they looked to appreciate and give recognition to all the various aspects and people that contributed to what the place is today. The site, in my opinion, challenged common stereotypes about the south and how we have always chosen to more greatly honor the white population and push the minority communities to the side.  This adds to my understanding of the 21st century south because it proves that we are making moves to be more accepting and beginning the much needed attempt to make amends for all the wrongdoings of the past.