Wanderlusting: Calhoun Mansion and City Market
“Charleston has something for everyone, rain or shine. Its architecture is unparalleled. Carriage rides are great for seeing the city and hearing the history behind certain houses and the area.” ~ Thomas Gibson
I woke up saddened that it was my last day, but super ecstatic because we saved two of my favorite things for last. We showered and packed, before grabbing coffee at City Lights and then headed over towards City Market which wasn’t yet open.
I am a collector of sweatshirts. I love me a good comfy cozy oversized sweatshirt, made all the better when it documents the places I have been. I NEEDED one from Charleston. It was imperative. While Google had been fabulous helping to plan this trip, it was failing in the
kitschy crappy souvenir department. It seemed like there was not a place to be had to buy (if we were being honest) tacky souvenirs.
Fast Forward to epic blonde moment of the trip (you now there had to be at LEAST one!)! Just blocks from the hotel, by City market, were loads of shops, not just cute upscale boutiques, but yes the tacky souvenir shops.
It was still early, but Rhiannon and I found a couple that were open, shaking our heads as we perused, that they were literally blocks from where we were staying. It also happened to be right where the cruises dock, so who woulda thunk there would be tacky tourist shops?
I found a sweatshirt and a few other
tacky souvenirs and we then walked to City Market which had just opened.
It is one of the oldest markets in the country spanning four blocks. I would liken it to the Ferry Building in San Francisco or Faneuil Hall in Boston. It is filled with vendors, most of whom are local artists and entrepreneurs.
One of my favorites parts of my Charleston trip, was Calhoun Mansion, which can only be described as a rich man’s hoarding mansion.
The mansion was built by George W. Williams in 1876 and embodied the Victorian Gilded Age, of that time. When he died, the house was inherited by his daughter and son-in-law, Patrick Calhoun, who was related to the well known Calhouns, thus the name change. Unfortunately, due to his brilliant mishandling of finances, the mansion was forced into foreclosure and much of the fixtures were sold.
Despite his ineptness, the Calhoun name stuck.
It was repeatedly sold, and fell into disrepair, until it was bought in the 1970’s and the owner began restorations.
It was sold to the current owner, who has not only taken great pains to showcase how people lived during the Victorian Gilded Age, but also created a museum with stunning artwork and artifacts that are centuries old. The fact you are looking at Byzantine art, and recovered Fabergé pieces is incredible in its own right, but knowing that the owner actually lives there amongst all this history and grandeur is truly spectacular.
The tour was incredibly informative, giving not just the history of the mansion, but also details of the thousands of pieces of artwork that reside there. I could have spent hours there.
Pictures aren’t allowed inside the house, but you can take pictures outside and in the stunning gardens.
River Street Sweets
We walked back to City Market which had come to life with people during our tour. We grabbed lunch at the Oyster Bar which hit the spot. Afterwards I was in the mood for a sweet treat.
If ever there were signs I was meant to live here, it was on my last day.
River Street Sweets originated in Savannah. When I was there in the Fall, I had bought some of their famously delicious pralines and pecan turtles. They had a Charleston location and I could NOT leave the South without having one.
I chose a praline and a white chocolate turtle which I got for free. Yes for FREE! The clerk handed them to me with a big smile on his face and told me it was on him. I was so touched by his thoughtful gesture. I swear it made the sweet treats all the better.
Originally we were going to visit Middleton Plantation, but I didn’t think we would have enough time before my flight left at six. I didn’t want to rush and it gave me another excuse to come back.
Not that I needed one.
During lunch, I got a notification that it had been delayed (there was a ton of inclement weather in New York) so we headed to King Street, which was celebrating Second Sunday. On Second Sunday they open the street to pedestrians. There is live music and outdoor cafes and it was truly a lively event. Rhiannon and I perused the shops and I even snagged my last coffee at City Lights Cafe.
I kept getting notifications from Jetblue, and at one point they had pushed forward my flight’s departure time, so Rhiannon and I headed to the airport. Alas, once I got through security, I got ANOTHER notification that it had been pushed back again.
I didn’t leave until eight that night, and it was yet another sign that Charleston was beckoning me to move there.
I <3 Charleston
It was incredibly bittersweet to say good-bye and I am pretty sure I left a piece of my heart there.
It gave me the reset I so desperately needed. It wasn’t just the sunshine or taste of the beach, which my mermaid heart always craves. But to be surrounded by such genuinely warm and welcoming people, was incredibly refreshing and it kept me in a constant good mood.
Charleston is an incredibly special city that has forever left an imprint on my heart. I can not wait to go back!
What was your favorite post from my Charleston Adventures? Where do you want to travel to next?
For more of my Charleston Adventures: