Symposium club meets
Posted: Monday, March 19, 2012 8:00 pm
The Symposium Review Club met recently in the home of Diane Riley. Co-hostessing was Charlotte Irwin. She served a dessert of chocolate fudge pie.
Several guests were sisters of the hostess, Jan Boot, Judy Lemley and Mary Brennan.
Mrs. Kendall introduced her program on historic Charleston, Va., by explaining that two brief visits to Charleston had left her wanting to know more about the history of that gracious, southern city. Mrs. Kendall recently heard a lecture presented by the Decorative Arts Trust of Memphis at Brooks Museum in Overton Park. The lecture by author Tom Savage, a highly sought after lecturer in the field of Southern decorative arts, examined the art, architecture and decorative arts of 18th Century Charleston against a background of European patronage and local preference.
Savage focused on pre-Revolutionary War Charleston from 1750-75. This 25-year period was a time of prosperity for the city.
He made an interesting comparison between colonial Williamsburg, Va., and colonial Charleston. Although Williamsburg was the capital of Virginia at that time and home of the royal governor, it was just a sleepy town when the colonial lawmakers were not in town. It was not a seaport and had little commercial activity.
In contrast, Charleston, located on the Atlantic coast, was already a bustling seaport, where the plantation owners brought corn, rice and indigo for export to Europe. It was also the capital of colonial South Carolina. At that time, while the aristocrats in Virginia remained on their plantations in the outlying areas, the aristocrats in South Carolina wanted fine homes in Charleston no matter how fine their own plantations were. The wealthy families would export furniture, mirrors and art from Europe for their homes.
From the end of the Civil War to the end of World War II, Charleston was a poor city; therefore, its citizens could not afford to tear down old homes and build new ones. Today, there are hundreds of historic homes and buildings still standing, many still is in use.
In closing, Mrs. Kendall highlighted three landmark historic homes built in the early 1800s: the Manigault House, the Nathaniel Russell House and the Edmondston-Alston House.
Published in The Messenger 3.19.12