Market Hall

After signing copies of my historical fiction novel Noble Cause at Boone Hall Farms and the Beaufort Bookstore, I took it easy the following day with some shopping in downtown Charleston at the historic open market.

Market Hall stands facing Meeting Street as the main entrance to four blocks of open-air buildings. Even if you’re not a shopper, this is a great place to browse and people watch. There is a wide assortment of vendors selling high quality products including paintings, pottery, and Charleston’s famous sweetgrass baskets.

The market has an interesting history. Charles Cotesworth Pinckney ceded the land on which the Market is built to the City of Charleston in 1788. He stipulated that a public market be built on the site and that it remain in use as a public market into perpetuity.

To fulfill this requirement, the low buildings that stretch from Market Hall to the waterfront were built between 1804 and the 1830’s. These originally housed meat, vegetable and fish markets and rented for $1.00 per day — or $2.00, if the space had a piece of marble to keep the meat or fish cold. Butchers were known to throw meat scraps into the streets, attracting many buzzards that were nicknamed Charleston Eagles. Through the years, the sheds have survived many disasters, including fires, tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes and bombardment.

Sweetgrass Baskets for Sale.

The City Market, one of the oldest in the country, is significant enough to be part of a permanent exhibit entitled “Life in Coastal South Carolina c. 1840” at the American History Museum of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC.

The Daughers of the Confederacy Museum is located right above, but it wasn’t open the day we were there. It will definitely be a stop on my next visit.

After shopping, my niece and I strolled along the beautiful Battery area where we met other people who were in town as part of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War commemorative events. Then we headed to Sullivan’s Island where we took a stroll on the beach.

Tomorrow I will be posting about my trip to Middleton Place, a plantation located outside of Charleston. (Another beautiful site burned by the Yankees during the Civil War). You won’t want to miss it!

Jessica James


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