Charleston Day 5: More Awesomeness...

So it's not always tourist time here in Charleston. We began our day with chores at one of the neater places to do laundry. While the clothes were drying we dined on a delicious sandwich.


With clean clothes to wear, we headed to one of the many historic and spectacular churches- the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, a magnificent structure and a grand monument to the faith of thousands.
The present church was built on the foundation of the 1854 cathedral. The structure is of Connecticut tool-chiseled brownstone. Over each entrance are unique stained glass windows including the Papal coat of arms and the seal of the state of South Carolina. The pews are of carved Flemish oak, and the three original altars are of white Vermont marble. What a wonderful place to sit and reflect.
As we love to do, we headed out for a stroll around our neighborhood. One of our favorite architectural elements here is the ornamental iron work everywhere.
The Sword Gates (1849) were manufactured by Christopher Werner. The City had hired him to produce a "pair" of gates for the new police station, and Werner made what he understood that to mean: two matching sets of gates—two left panels and two right panels. The city had intended only one set of gates - that is, a single left and single right panel. Werner sold the duplicate set to George Hopley who had them installed at his house and here they still are 167 years later.
Many of the more modern gates are attributed to Philip Simmons, the most celebrated of Charleston iron workers of the 20th Century.
Simmons fashioned more than five hundred decorative pieces of ornamental wrought iron: gates, fences, balconies, and window grills. The city of Charleston, from end to end, is truly decorated by his hand. While not all of these works are his, they are all amazing to gaze upon and seek out.

Sometimes, if you're really lucky you get to see what treasure is hidden behind the gates.

And sometimes you see something that makes you chuckle!
And sometimes when you least expect it, you get another history lesson. This occurred on our final stop, at the graveyard of the Unitarian Church (1772). It was designed as a garden cemetery by Caroline Howard Gilman (1794-1888), writer and wife of longtime Charleston UU minister Samuel Gilman (1791-1858). It is an “organized chaos” of  lush and beautiful foliage. Upon entering we found this monument, which features a wrought iron sankofa, a symbol that refers to the importance of learning from history to best move forward. It was crafted by Carlton Simmons, nephew of Philip Simmons. The inscription on the base reads: “In memory of those enslaved workers who made these bricks and helped build our church.” Folks who fill the historic pews have long advocated for social justice and equality. Yet, lingering in the church’s history was a long suspected, and recently proven, fact that enslaved workers did built its walls and made the bricks comprising them. We learn something new here every day.
We have never been in such a botanical treasure. The graveyard was planted with the intention of having everything grow freely, mimicking the spiritual growth of the church body.

Who loves a garden still his Eden keeps,
Perennial pleasures plants, and wholesome harvest reaps.
– Amos Bronson Alcott (1799-1888)
Tonight we reconnected with our friend, Sharon, whom we haven't seen in six years. In 2010, Steve and I spent our first month here, volunteering and meeting the people of the Spoleto-Charleston Initiative Steering Committee, prior to our move to Italy.  This is what I wrote then, about Sharon,
The one person who made all of this happen, for us, is our friend Sharon. Since July (2009), we have been communicating about this adventure and she is the one who opened the door, put down the welcome mat and said, "Come".  I've been calling her friend, since the beginning, and when we met in May, it was a title that fit perfectly.  She has been instrumental in so much of this and no amount of words can really express our gratitude.
We just had to celebrate Cinco de Mayo together and we did it in style at Juanita Greenberg’s Nacho Royale where they "make real Mexican-ish food prepared fresh and fast." An extra bonus was that the band, Return of the Mac, was incredible, so mucho fun!
Live music, a festive atmosphere and a reconnect with friends. This was one bueno night and another awesome Charleston day.

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2 comments:

Karen Booth said...

The Cathedral, iron work, organized chaos, alien flower (not to mention fresh clothes) and connecting with a friend -- Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Nickanddeb Bako said...

What a fun day!

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