It is so cool to me to think that this area which we live in has documented history going back over 300 years. Not only that, but there is still so much that has yet to be discovered – just because it’s been around for so long doesn’t mean they have it all figured out. That’s something we learned from our recent trip to Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site.
Dorchester started as a trading town in the late 1600’s and existed until the American Revolution. It was founded by Reverend Joseph Lord, who was granted permission to leave his home in Dorchester, Massachusetts, and start a church in South Carolina. He brought with him some from the congregation in MA and together they sailed down to what was at that time Charles Towne, SC. They started Dorchester 26 miles inland, off of the Ashley River, which is now around the town of Summerville, SC. The reason for its relatively quick downfall was because Reverend Joseph Lord returned to Massachusetts in 1720, as did other settlers, while others grew sick and died from being unaccustomed to the Southern heat. Today, what is left is the Clock Tower from the church they built (which they called the Old White Meeting House), a cemetery, the walls of Fort Dorchester, and so much more history to be discovered underground the 300+ acres.
Inside Fort Dorchester
We took a morning to go over and see what this site has to offer. We spent a good hour walking around and enjoying the interpretive trail – a short walk that takes you up to the ruins with informational signs along the path. We found it interesting how archeologists have mapped out the property lines – their interpretation made it look like your typical modern-day neighborhood. There were also areas that were blocked off because they are currently going through an archeological dig. I read later that they have events throughout the year where you can actually help out with one of their “digs”! The most prominent parts of the history that you’ll notice are the clock tower and the walls to Fort Dorchester. You’re allowed to walk these and get up close and personal with these ruins. We loved the walls to the fort – it was made from oyster shells and mortar, which they called “tabby.” After that, we were able to walk right up to the Ashley River and take a short break at the picnic area (more like a letterboxing break 😉 )
This site is one of SC’s 47 state parks, and has an admission fee of $2 per person – or free with the state parks pass (yep, we’re getting our money’s worth of that baby!) Dogs are allowed on-leash – Charlotte loved sniffing out the history here. I think she’d do great with the archeological digs. There are other events that take place here, such as Colonial Days, when reenactors come to help educate visitors on the area and what life was like here back then.
After this visit, we took a drive through the cute little town of Summerville, and stopped to take a stroll through the Azalea Gardens. Of course everything wasn’t in bloom so we weren’t able to experience the full beauty this place has to offer seasonally, but we still enjoyed the camellia blossoms and the cute statues, bridges, and gazebos around the park. Well, Curtis and I did anyway.
Charlotte was a scaredy cat when it came to the statues of animals. She did not like the dog statue at all and took great offense to us going up and “petting” it. She was also not a fan of the fox statues, and ran to a gazebo to hide from them…somehow, while distracted by the scary statue foxes, she missed the real live cat just down the trail. Oh Charlotte.
In the spring when the azaleas are in bloom, there is a festival around this area which would also be fun to attend. While we were there it was a lovely 60 degrees, and I was wondering why the flowers bloomed “so late.” Well now I’ve learned the hard way that there is a real winter here, and it is painful. It got below freezing this week – our poor garden! I know I shouldn’t complain, seeing as my family in Iowa has been experiencing single-digit temps with windchill in the -30 range, but even thinking of it like that isn’t enough to keep me from turning on the heat for the first time…
To see more pictures from the day, visit savingtimeinabottleimages.tumblr.com. I think I’m going to have to start collecting pictures I take of things that Charlotte is afraid of and create a special album.