Housed in a mid-19th century Greek revival church, Charleston's Karpeles Manuscript Library is one of several such scattered around the United States.
These libraries feature selections drawn from the world's largest private manuscript collection, which includes documents from prominent artists, composers, explorers, scientists, political leaders, religious figures, and other culturally and historically significant people. The exhibition at each location changes four times per year. One visit you might see letters written by Eva Perón or John Adams -- and on another visit you could view religious tracts by John Calvin or Martin Luther; or maybe scientific studies by the likes of Galileo, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, or Albert Einstein; or musical compositions by such luminaries as Ludwig von Beethoven, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, or Richard Wagner. Also displayed are a few Egyptian artifacts collected by David and Marsha Karpeles.
It is worth noting that the the docent is also one of the library's attractions. He is not only friendly and knowledgeable, but a true Southern gentleman with a real talent for storytelling. His tales are informative as well as enjoyable. Indeed, I have learned a great deal from him over the years, and I am a college prof!
The library, which offers free onsite parking, is located on the fringe of Charleston's historic district in an area that is rapidly gentrifying, with good restaurants and bars within easy walking distance. It is well worth a visit for those interested in culture and history. And a nice break from the city's more crowded tourist sites. Probably not a good place to take children, however, as there are no interactive kid-friendly exhibitions.