Historic Markers Across South Carolina

Black and White Worlds / The Varied Landscapes of a Town House Lot

Marker ID:  
Location: 51 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC
County: Charleston
Coordinates: N 32° 46.427    W 079° 55.86
  32.77378333    -79.931


This present day garden design differs substantially from that which existed during the occupation of the property by the Russell Family and their slaves (1808-1857).

In 1819 the Russell garden was described by an English visitor:
...called on the venerable Nathaniel Russell, Esq., residing in a splendid mansion, surrounded by a wilderness of flowers, and bowers of myrtles, oranges and lemons, smothered with fruit and flowers living in a next of roses... I saw and ate rip figs, pears, apples and plums, the rich productions of this generous climate.

the photograph from 1898 shows the "bones" of this early garden with its winding shell paths and planting beds. Archaeological excavations from 2003 and 2006 revealed evidence of this garden located in the area between the front entrance and Meeting Street. Research and artifacts suggest the paths and planting beds in this image are original.

The formal, front garden was in stark contrast to the work space at the rear of the property. Fencing divided the formal pleasure garden from the rear utilitarian spaces, effectively separating black and white worlds.

Historic Charleston Foundation.