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Charleston


South Carolina

Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site

Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site

More than 35 years after it opened, Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site has been re-born, a seven-year, ongoing effort that has re-shaped the pivotal landmark’s ability to share the story of the birthplace of the first permanent European settlement in the Carolinas.

Once again, the Charleston experience begins at Charles Towne Landing, the spot where English settlers, recruited to extend the mercantile success of the British Empire in the Caribbean, sailed from Barbados in 1670 to establish a foothold on the secluded banks of what is now Old Towne Creek just off the Ashley River.

Years of planning followed by more than a year of construction has culminated with the Aug. 17, 2006, official opening of the 665-acre site’s new visitors center. It features 12 rooms of interactive exhibits that describe how settlers, slaves, traders and Native Americans came together to forge the beginnings of both one of Colonial America’s major cities and the plantation system of the American South.

The $19 million renovation project was made possible by strong support from local government and civic leaders, including lawmakers who helped ensure state funding would be available to secure Charles Towne Landing’s place as one of only a few preserved original English settlement sites in the United States, a list that includes Jamestown in Virginia and Maryland’s St. Mary’s City.

The park, which first opened in 1970 as part of South Carolina’s tricentennial celebration, also features a revamped interpretive and walking trail system, including a new marsh boardwalk; a reconstructed palisade wall of the size and construction and on the same location as the original; a new, working cannon embrasure guarding access by water; a garden with crops from that day; and the Animal Forest, a natural habitat zoo that’s home to species the settlers would have encountered, including pumas and bears.

Another highlight of the park is the Adventure, a full-size and functional replica of the kind of 17th-century sailing ship that traders used to help spark the port city of Charleston and European expansion in America. On-site reconstruction of the ship at dry dock at the original settlement site is under way and is expected to be complete in 2007.

Such ships plied the stormy waters between the Carolinas and the Caribbean, and the link between Charleston and Barbados is explored at the park by living history interpreters in special programs for schoolchildren and adult visitors alike.

The Barbados connection is integral to the story of Charles Towne Landing. The Lords Proprietor in London had paid for the settlers’ trip to the mainland with the intent of spreading to America the financial success of the sugar plantations on their Caribbean colony. A local group of Native Americans, the Kiawah, allied with the settlers and showed them how the small peninsula the Englishmen named Albemarle Point provided a natural defense against enemies, especially the Spanish, approaching by water.

Charles Towne Landing also is home to the Legare-Waring House, the former home of Ferdinanda Legare Waring, an accomplished horticulturist and dedicated preservationist. During her years there, Mrs. Waring planted an oak alle’ and extensive stands of camellias and azaleas and expanded the house of the overseer of Old Towne Plantation (it now serves as an elegant setting for weddings and other gatherings) to be her own. She later donated her home and the land to the state to preserve the historic site in perpetuity.

Driving Directions:
From I-26 E: Take Cosgrove Road exit 216A onto Hwy. 7 (Sam Rittenberg Blvd.) bear left onto Hwy. 171 (Old Town Rd.)
Follow signs for Charles Towne Landing. The park is on the left at a traffic light.
Daily 9am-5pm

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Replica canon at Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site
Replica canon at Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site

The Adventure, (under construction) a full-size and functional replica of the kind
      of 17th-century sailing ship
The Adventure,(under construction) a full-size and functional replica of the kind of 17th-century sailing ship

   
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Source: SCPRT
Last modified: 20070505
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