Sunday, October 21, 2012

October 8, 2012. The Hawthornes Are In Charleston. Carriage Ride.

The Hawthornes are in Charleston, South Carolina.
The following picture is from
Palmetto Carriage Works:

 The city of Charleston is a city best seen
 by carriage ride or on foot.
We opted for the carriage ride
with Palmetto Carriage.

Next time,
I'll take a self-guided tour on foot.

The problem with carriage rides
is the people.
Ain't that always the problem?

Mr. Hawthorne and I were first in line
to board the carriage
and we took our seats in the very back.
The lady in the parking lot
saw cameras dangling from my neck
and told us that was the best seat for taking pictures.

There was a group (11) of ladies
getting on who wanted us to move
so they could all sit together.
What is this?
An elementary school bus trip?
And the thing is,
it would not have made any difference whatsoever.
They were still going to be separated.

Well, on top of the stupidity above,
these ladies simply

And I was usually on the wrong side to shoot pictures.

Live and learn.

These are the cleanest stables I've ever seen.
Workers are constantly cleaning the stalls
and adding fresh bedding.

The animals are well-taken care of.
They have over 40 horses and mules
at the barn downtown and at their farm on John's Island
and they have an excellent animal care record.
In addition to working downtown,
the animals receive ample pasture time throughout the year.
Their temperatures are taken after every tour,
every day of the year.

Next time you start bitchin' about your job,
think about that one!

If the animal's temperature reaches 103 degrees,
it is pulled from service and cooled down.
If the outside temperature reaches 98 degrees,
or if the combined temperature and humidity levels
reach 180 degrees, then the animals are pulled.
The animals are examined weekly by a blacksmith,
They also receive a yearly visit from
a Certified Master Equine Dentist,
and they are seen by an equine veterinarian 
twice a year for regular checkups.

Charleston was an English colony,
given to the 8 Lords Proprietors by King Charles.
The original settlement was in 1672
and the town has been on the peninsula since 1680.

Charleston's high ground is 12 feet above sea level.

Charleston was founded on the principle
of religious tolerance.
It is called the Holy City -
within 3 square miles, there are over 80 churches.
As our guide explained,
Charlestonians needed all those churches -
there was plenty of sin to go around.
Back in the 1700s, there was 1 pub for every 13 people.
Today, there is 1 pub for every thirty-six people

The City of Charleston has taken the Historic District
and subdivided it onto different areas of operation
for all the carriages and tour groups.

This is so you don't get a traffic jam
with horses and mules.
Our guide had to sign in first, at a designated point,
with his carriage number and
the number of people in his party.
This is how they disperse taxes -
50 cents per passenger and
$3.00 per carriage.
A high-tech lottery ball machine
spits out a ball,
and that determines
the guide's route for today.
The guides don't know where they are
going until they are told.

Crape myrtles are everywhere.
They were introduced by
statesman, physician, and botanist,
Joel Roberts Poinsett,
Ambassador to Mexico.
When our guide asked what other plant
POINTSETT might have brought back,
one of the bright bulbs sitting in the seat
in front of me,
cried out,  "KUDZU!"
Geeze Louise.

Besides crape myrtles,
there are also lots of oleander trees.
During the Revolutionary War,
if a soldier tried to get fresh with the a Lady of Charleston,
she would offer them oleander tea.
The oleander is poisonous.
Oleander poison, our guide told us,
thickens the blood, resulting in a heart attack.
That's why even today they say,
"Watch out for Charleston women."

Charleston's heart attack rate is one of the
highest in the nation,
while the divorce rate is quite low.
(Our guide making a joke,  or not.)

The dominant architectural style here is
what's called the Charleston Single House,
named for the plan of the house.
The building consists of a one-room-wide house -
a single room facing the street and two rooms deep.
Typically, there is a side porch,
running south to southwest, called a piazza,
(what our guide called a "fancy name for a porch"),
running the length of the house
and having several doorways attached.
The family would spend the majority of summertime
in the piazza, which was the coolest place.
The door in front is a "privacy door."
It resembles a traditional entry,
but it connects directly to the piazza.

Charleston speak:
piazza  =  porch
    cockroaches  =  palmetto bugs
  wharf rat  =  river dog

Creeping or climbing fig, ficus pumila,
covers many of the old homes in Charleston.
Ivy is not allowed.
And if you did grow ivy,
you would receive a ticket from the
Board of Architectural  Review.

You gotta love those boards.
The Board of Architectural Review
 pretty much governs the historic district.
They have the last yay or nay 
as to what happens to all the houses here.
If you want to paint your house,
you pick out a few colors from the accepted palette,
which, of course, is regulated by the Board,
and you obtain their approval.

There are three rules:
  • The 75-year rule.  Anything over 75 years is protected and cannot be taken down by the hand of man.
  • Anytime they build anything, they must maintain historical appearance.
  • For any restoration or renovation in the works, the plans must be approved by the Board.
The Board of Architectural Review
has been nicknamed "the most ruthless" group
of 80-year old women.
Not all are in their eightys however.
They have a few older than that.

Really, you don't want to mess with the blue-hairs.

The shutters are "Charleston Green."
Everybody has a story about
the origin of Charleston Green,
the most prominent having to do with  Union soldiers
sending down buckets of black paint to help
the economically decimated city keep up with appearances.
The Charlestonians, added green and yellow paint
to the buckets, creating a more colorful version
of the funereal black.

Most of the homes were made from wood -
black cypress from the marshes.
This type of wood did well in the heat and humidity.
It was slightly oily, giving protection from termites.
The downside to the cypress
is it doesn't hold paint as well, 
plus catching on fire is always a threat.

I may be wrong here [Gasp!],
but I'm thinking this is the house in which
the old Lt. Governor, Andre Bauer lived.
The story goes that Bauer was involved in 
two high-speed chases,
both with speeds in excess of 100 MPH,
with one race going through
 the center of downtown Columbia.
Bauer never got caught for those offenses,
or if he did, he was let off.
I guess that's part of the perks of governorship
and the "Old Boy" system.

Anyhoos, one day Bauer decided to mess
with some stucco on his house.
The Board of Architectural Review
fined him the very next day.
In addition, they sent a scathing letter
to the local newspaper, publicly scolding him.
They might have called his mommie too.

Again, one does not mess with the blue-hairs.
I know this for a fact.
When I lived in Danville, Virginia,
they had a Historical Society run by women
who'd lived in Danville forever.
And they were a formidable power.
We referred to them as the Hysterical Society.
Anyways, don't mess with 'em.

The Charlestonians loved their iron gates
and any type of iron work ornamentation.
They considered having iron
a status symbol, more or less.

Notice the "welcoming arm" staircase,
which is prevalent in many southern cities.
The staircase looks like two open arms,
welcoming you into the house.
There is also legend about this staircase:
males would go up one side, females the other.
This reasoning for this is so the men
could not catch sight of the women's chaste ankles,
since they had to pull up their dresses when climbing stairs.

This is an earthquake bolt 
and they can be seen on many Charleston buildings. 
 On August 31, 1886, Charleston was struck 
by one of the largest earthquakes
 ever recorded on the East Coast,
 measuring a 7.0 to 7.5 on the Richter scale. 
 Hundreds of buildings in and around the city
 were damaged or destroyed. 
When they rebuilt,
 iron rods were run underneath the floorboard 
so you couldn't see them, 
and anchored with a washer on either side.
  In the middle of the bolt, there was a turn buckle. 
 After any damage,
you would crank on the turnbuckle 
and bring the building back together.

Notice the difference in color in the bricks.
That's the high water mark from Hugo.

And that, my friends,
is my one-hour carriage ride ($22 per person)
through Charleston's historic district.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the great shots of the beautiful Charleston homes. We also took a carriage ride and took many, many pictures. I love the Charleston style homes with the "piazzas" and can imagine building a house like that here. I especially enjoyed the history lesson provided by the driver. She gave us a lot of information in a relatively short time. I would love to see Charleston again.

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Hi, NMOAC. Wish we could have stayed longer. One of the problems here, along with Savannah, is the parking, which is non-existent. There are parking garages, but if you use those, you really have to know where you're going because you'll be on foot.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for letting me ride along. Need to plan a visit, would love to see the historic homes and gardens. Was the vibrant blue climbing flower a morning glory?

Marilyn said...

Lovely. I hear you about the chatterboxes. I've been on tours with those types before.

vera charles said...

Love the tour of Charleston, Rosie. Those chatterboxes must go on every tour, because I've been with them, too.

Lea said...

The Blue Hairs DO keep a nice city though.

And I'm impressed with the care given to the horses. And were those donkeys?

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Lea, those were donkeys - Mama and baby. And I agree, the Blue Hairs do a great job.

The Chatterboxes need to go though. When we were in Savannah, every time we picked up a new group at a stop along our way, our guide would have to go through her spiel about remain seated, keep all body parts inside, and, of course, please turn off your cell phones. One "gentleman" directly behind the guide was talking on his cell the entire time. I sooooo wanted her to bitch slap him.

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Anony, that was a blue morning glory.