The passion for Charleston history has inspired us to do another installment of historic Charleston, SC images.? We have searched far and wide to show the people, architecture and lifestyle of Charleston through the years and your enthusiasm to absorb, remember and share has been overwhelming.? Please enjoy these prints that take us through the years.? Some memories fond, some heartbreaking, but all memorable.
Charleston, Through the Years – A Visionary Look Back
So many of us have bore witness to weddings, sat on a blanket enjoying life music, relaxed in the gazebo, fed the ducks, smelled the beautiful floral arrangements all around, biked the outer rim of the park or just held hands with someone you love walking over the bridge and listening to the sounds of the fountain.? That is Hampton Park, one of our most beloved park gems.? With The Citadel on one side and Charleston Strong with its doves of unity on the other, this park is a haven for baseball, basketball, weddings, concerts, jogs, bike rides and children playing. ? Hampton Park has brought so much joy to Charleston.
Here are a few facts that may open your eyes about Hampton Park and its rich history:
The full size of Hampton Park is 60 acres.
Hampton Park is named after Wade Hampton III, Governor of South Carolina from 1877 – 1879 during Reconstruction
From 1792 – 1900, Hampton Park was a horse racing track called Washington Race Track.? It was started by the South Carolina Jockey Club.? Though the track was historically closed in 1900, the last race was in 1877 due to the damage caused by the Civil War.
It was originally the front yard of a large plantation called “The Grove”.? The plantation was destroyed during the Revolutionary War and put up for land sale because the couple that owned the plantation had no children.
During the Civil War, the land was used as a prisoner of war camp for Union Soldiers being moved from Andersonville, Georgia to Florence, South Carolina.? Over 200 died due to illness and are buried in unmarked graves near the parking lot on the Wagoner Terrance side.
That in 1901, several businessmen decided to hold a regional trade exposition in Charleston and bought the land from the Charleston Library Society for part of the grounds.? The Expo was considered a failure by many but in 1902 Teddy Roosevelt came to the event and one year, the actual Liberty Bell made an appearance.? Officially called the South Carolina Inter-State and West Indian Exposition, this event brought new business to Charleston including the American Cigar Company and United Fruit Company.
The Boston Bean Eaters (today known as the Atlanta Braves) held two weeks of spring training in the park in 1905, and lost to the Detroit Tigers.
In 1917, the City of Charleston leased two acres to the 18th Infantry for an encampment to prepare for World War I service?
Mr. Archer Huntington donated $1000 and a collection of exotic animals from his personal collection at Brookgreen Gardens to get a zoo started in 1932.? zoo included lions, bears, and native species in a series of big chain link cages located between the current bandstand and the Cleveland Street entrance.? By 1972, the zoo was in such bad condition, it was deemed in violation of new federal codes of animal welfare treatment and was soon closed.
Today thousands flock to the closing concerts for Piccolo Spoleto and MOJA festivals with families and loved ones to listen to great music and celebrate community.? Next time you are having a picnic in Hampton Park or going for a jog, think about the celebrated history of this land.
Built in 1851, the McLeod Plantation, located on James Island played a critical role in some of the most significant periods of United States history providing shelter for soldiers during the Civil War, serving as a headquarters point during the war, raising cotton at the hands of slaves and offering transition homestead for freed slaves.? In 1991, the final offspring of the McLeod family legacy passed away and with that the end of an era.? He donated his land to historic Charleston who came very close to selling the land to the College of Charleston for a sports complex.? Fortunate for the legacy of Charleston and its rich heritage, the Charleston County Park Council purchased the land and has restored this critical piece of Charleston history for all of us to share.
I came into my adventure onto this sacred and historic property with a desire for knowledge acquisition about our land and walked away with a feeling of serenity and peace.? Like myself, many will go in looking for a little visual history lesson, but will walk away spending time in a place that has preserved its look and integrity for 160 plus years.
We invite you to step back in time and walk with us as we show you some of the visual spectacle of McLeod Plantation:? one of Charleston truest historic and visual gifts.? From the Big House to the Wappoo River, you will find yourself lost in yesteryear and get swept away in the romanticism of the land.
Take a morning or afternoon, pack a picnic and enjoy one of the most beautiful escapes just three miles outside of Charleston proper.? You will not be disappointed.