Slavery and its Legacies: Sites of Care and Community

The places highlighted in this tour reveal the myriad ways that Black Charlestonians cared for each other. Sites of education, social and medical institutions, and religious organizations illustrate some of the many ways in which the African American community created social support systems on their own, stepping in when the city and state failed to provide Black residents with the services similar to those offered to white ones.

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.

Shaw Orphan Asylum, 16 George Street

On May 15, 1865, the Col. Shaw Orphan House was founded by James Redpath to provide refuge to the city’s African American orphans following the end of the Civil War. The Orphanage would go by many names and move multiple times during its short…

Immaculate Conception School, 200 Coming Street

200 Coming Street is the site of one of Charleston's many brick structures. Nevertheless, several crosses embedded into the building's facade quickly give away the building's owners and give a hint to its past. Here sits Immaculate Conception School,…

The Shaw Community Center, 20 Mary Street

The Shaw Community Center, located at 20 Mary Street, was originally constructed in 1874 as the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial School. The school was built as a tribute to Infantry Colonel Robert G. Shaw, a white Union Army officer during the American…

St. Katherine Convent, 51 Society Street

When walking down Society Street, pause, and give your attention to the building marked 51. While 51 Society Street may blend in with the street's surrounding buildings, it was at one time the residence for some of Charleston's most educated and…

East Side Neighborhood

The neighborhood known today as the East Side has a complex history that dates back to the 1760s and intertwines the stories of Black and white Charlestonians, working- and upper-class citizens, and a variety of different communities. The creation of…

Cannon Street Hospital, 135 Cannon Street

135 Cannon Street was home to one of the only African American hospitals in South Carolina during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Although it is no longer standing, Cannon Street Hospital, also known as the McClennan Hospital, is an important…

The United Order of Tents, 73 Cannon Street

The United Order of Tents of J.R. Giddings and Jollifee Union is the only secret fraternal society made up exclusively of Black women. Their secrecy relates to their founding as a stop on the Underground Railroad in the mid-1800s. The two founders,…
This project was sponsored by the Center for the Study of Slavery’s Public History Working Group and by the 250th Anniversary Historical Documentation Committee, with additional support from the School of Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS), the Department of History, the Graduate School, and the College’s department of Marketing and Communications.

Research and Publication Assistance provided by Harlan Greene, Julia Eichelberger, Rachel Donaldson, Aaisha Haykal, Grayson Harris, Noah Dubois, Barry Stiefel, and Mary Jo Fairchild. Special thanks for images and permissions provided by Historic Charleston Foundation, Catholic Diocese of Charleston, Charleston Museum, Addlestone Library’s Special Collections, the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture, and C of C’s Department of Marketing and Communications.

Website Curator: Grayson Harris
This site will be updated as new information becomes available. If you have additional images or information to contribute to this tour, please contact us at discoveringourpast-group@cofc.edu.