History of the Holy City

Charleston has a rich history that is seen in everyday life for the citizens who inhabit this city.  Visitors will experience a "living museum"; with architecture, natural beauty and culture that has survived and indeed thrived here for hundreds of years.

*= still standing or in existence 

  • 1663 Charles II grants the "eight lords proprietors" title to Carolina
  • 1669 Settlers leave from London in three ships; the Albemarle, Port Royal and Carolina.
  • 1670 Charles Towne is founded and named capitol of Carolina
  • 1690 Colony is moved, officially, to the peninsula where it still stands
  • 1693 "Liberty of Conscience" allows people to worship how ever they want
  • 1695 Charles Towne becomes a walled city
  • 1695 John Lining House built *(oldest frame house) 
  • 1700 Perhaps the first free library in America is established
  • 1710 French and Spanish attack during Queen Anne’s War
  • 1710 Powder Magazine is built *(oldest public building)
  • 1710 Pink House Tavern is built *
  • 1712 Rhett Mansion is built *
  • 1712 Carolina spilt into South and North, both with own governor
  • 1713 The Old Powder Magazine is complete (The state's oldest public building) www.PowderMag.org
  • 1715 Yemassee Indian War (2 years)
  • 1718 Blackbeard and Stede Bonnet hold hostages for ransom and blockade port.
  • 1718 Stede Bonnet is hanged at what is now White Point Gardens
  • 1719 Petition, "Revolutionary Assembly", to the King to take authority from "eight lords proprietors"
  • 1721 South Carolina is made a royal colony
  • 1732 South Carolina Gazette first edition is published (later backed by Ben Franklin)
  • 1735 1st opera shown to the public, in the colonies, @ Broad and Church
  • 1736 1st fire insurance company in America is founded
  • 1736 Dock Street Theater, one of the first in America, is opened
  • 1740 "Rainbow Row" is constructed as a warehouse district
  • 1747 Trade treaty sgned with Choctaw Indians
  • 1749 Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim Synagogue* founded.  2nd oldest synagogue in the United States.
  • 1761 St. Michael’s Church holds 1st service * (oldest church building)
  • 1767 Old Exchange Building is constructed *
  • 1773 Charleston Museum is established * (oldest museum in America, the society not the building)
  • 1774 Henry Middleton is named President of the 1st Continental Congress
  • 1775 1st Chamber of Commerce in America is founded
  • 1776 1st major naval battle is waged against Fort Moultrie *, British retreat
  • 1776 Declaration of Independence is read out loud
  • 1780 British lay siege to the city for 40 days followed by British occupation
  • 1783 City is incorporated and the name of Charleston is taken
  • 1785 Charter granted for the College of Charleston (oldest municipal college in America)
  • 1786 Charleston no longer state capital, now Columbia
  • 1787 4 South Carolinians sign the U.S. Constitution
  • 1791 President George Washington visits and stays in what is now called Heyward-Washington House *
  • 1824 Birth of Reform Judaism @ Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim *
  • 1824 Medical College of SC founded, now MUSC (oldest medical school in South)
  • 1828 Edgar Allen Poe stationed @ Fort Moultrie *
  • 1830 1st steam locomotive, The Best Friend of Charleston, starts route to Hamburg, SC
  • 1838 Osceola dies while being held @ Fort Moultrie *
  • 1843 The Citadel * begins first class
  • 1850 The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist * catholic church is built.
  • 1860 Ordinance of Secession ratified and South Carolina becomes "independent commonwealth"
  • 1861 The Great Fire of Charleston, damaged or destroyed one third of the city.
  • 1861 Confederates fire upon Fort Sumter * starting the Civil War
  • 1862 Battle of Secessionville and Battle of Simmons Bluff
  • 1863 54th Massachusetts assault Battery Wagner (seen in the movie Glory)
  • 1863 Federal bombardment of city begins, lasts 587 days
  • 1864 CSS H.L. Hunley sinks the Housatonic (1st submarine in war to sink enemy vessel)
  • 1865 Sheran’s forces burn Middleton Plantation but spares Charleston and moves to burn Columbia
  • 1886 Charleston hit by estimated 7.3 magnitude earthquake
  • 1920 Beginning of organized historic preservation with forming of what is now know as the Preservation Society of Charleston
  • 1925 Dubose Heyward wrote a novel set in Cabbage Row, aka Catfish Row, called Porgy
  • 1925 A dance called "The Charleston" becomes a craze
  • 1934 George Gershwin writes "Porgy and Bess" along with "Summertime" (1st American opera)
  • 1951 Local judge goes against doctrine of "separate but equal" later used as doctrine in the case of Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education
  • 1963 Rivers High is the first high school in South Carolina to become integrated
  • 1977 1st Spoleto Festival USA and named permanent American home
  • 1989 Hurricane Hugo, category 4,   25% of significant buildings in city severely damaged
  • 1995 Wreck of H.L. Hunley submarine discovered under 3 feet of silt off Sullivan's Island by Clive Cussler's team
  • 2000 Wreck of H.L. Hunley recovered from Sullivan's Island and transported to laboratory in North Charleston