Discovering History in Charleston

As you know from our previous blog post, we have been restoring the renowned and classic Charleston home—the Alfred Hutty Residence. We are in the process of demolition, framing and concrete work and found two discoveries that are of historic interest.

We discovered the first one after breaking down a deteriorating wall. Behind it was a façade with several long slits extending through the brick. As we inspected these cavities more, the intention behind them became very clear: these were used as gun ports during the Civil War. With this deliberate design in the architecture, residents could be protected while still having the ability to shoot their weapons. The muzzle of the gun could extend outside and with the slits funneling outward to the backside of the wall, residents were able to have a wider range of motion and better angles for their guns.

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Then, as we were digging up the ground for concrete work and framing, we found this black earthen band running through the dirt. We immediately knew what caused it: a massive fire, also known as the great fire of 1861. This infamous fire started on December 11, and when a cold front came through with high winds spreading it even further. In the process of trying to control it, fourteen houses on Queen Street were blown up to create a fire blockade to save the Roman Catholic Orphan House, the Marine and Roper hospitals and the Medical College.

Finally, a day later on December 12th, the fire slowed down and faded out.  When it was all said and done, the fire had burned over 540 acres, 575 homes, businesses and five churches. The City Market area and a large section of Meeting Street as well as the north side of Queen, most of Broad, and the north side of Tradd Streets, were decimated.

The damages in property cost were estimated to be between $5 million and $8 million!

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With a home situated in the heart of this old city, we can only imagine how many other discoveries will weave a story through history.

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