Slavery and its Legacies: Sites of Agency

Included in this tour are sites illustrating the efforts of Black Charlestonians to take control over their lives and their communities. Whether they lived during the era of enslavement, endured the failed promises of Reconstruction, or struggled against the suffocating weight of Jim Crow laws and customs, the Black residents of Charleston seized social economic opportunities where they could and created their own opportunities to secure their place in the city’s social, cultural, and economic landscapes.

This tour was developed in collaboration with the Center for the Study of Slavery in Charleston. In Spring 2020, graduate students in Dr. Rachel Donaldson’s History 590 crafted 5 thematic tours focusing on the history of slavery and its enduring legacies in the city of Charleston. Using the College of Charleston as the center, the tours move outward from the campus in a radius of eight blocks or less to the north, south, east, and west to sites that reveal stories of community endurance, resistance, fellowship, and agency. While we emphasized sites and structures that remain visible in the built environment, we also uncovered the stories of sites that have been lost over time. Our work, as we see it, is part of current efforts to uncover, document, and interpret the history and legacy of slavery on the cultural landscape.

Home of Virginia A. Ferrette, 74 George Street

74 George Street is mere steps away from the Cistern Yard of the College of Charleston. It has been present for most of the College’s major milestones and events, and it now sits in the shadow of the Rita Liddy Hollings Science Center and the new…

The Brown Fellowship Society Cemetery, 52 Pitt Street

The Brown Fellowship Society, founded November 1st, 1790 by Charleston’s community of elite free persons of color, is more than two centuries old. This Society was once central to the African American community of Charleston, and members maintained a…

Jones Hotel, 71 Broad Street

The Jones Hotel illustrates the complexities of slavery in the city of Charleston and reveals much about elite Black Charlestonians during the Antebellum era. In Charleston, larger communities of free Black Charlestonians divided along economic and…

Morris Street Business District

Realtors, newer residents, and tourists in Charleston usually include the neighborhood around Morris Street in the Cannonborough-Elliottborough or Radcliffeborough subdivisions. To do so, however, erases Morris Street’s individuality and distinctive…

Office of Dr. Huldah Josephine Prioleau, 92 Spring Street

The two small buildings currently located on the lot at 92 Spring Street were built by Dr. Huldah Josephine Prioleau, one of the first black women doctors in Charleston. She was born in Charleston on July 4, 1866, and educated at the Avery Normal…

Lincoln Theater, 601 King Street

The Lincoln Theater (601 King Street) was once an important center for community, culture, and entertainment for African Americans in the Charleston area. While the building that once housed the Lincoln Theater no longer exists, it is nevertheless…
This project would not be possible without the support of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS), Center for the Study of Slavery in Charleston, Special Collections, Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture, the Marketing and Communications Department at the College of Charleston and the research efforts of the graduate students in the History Department
250th Anniversary Hist Doc Committee (Harlan, Julia, Ron)
Website Curator: Grayson Harris