One of the first places you need to visit during your Bluegreen vacation to Charleston, South Carolina is the Market. The Charleston Market has long been a bustling center of the city, full of vendors, tourists and locals. Whether you are shopping for souvenirs or just waiting on your restaurant reservations, the Charleston Market hosts hours of entertainment, from Meeting Street all the way to East Bay Street. Sweetgrass weavers sit along the Market’s edges and sew their goods, displaying beautifully crafted bowls and baskets before them. This Gullah tradition is just one of the many things that has made the Charleston Market what it is today – a beautiful, open air market with plenty to see, eat and learn about.
In 1788, Charles Cotsworth Pinckney gave the land the market now sits on to the City of Charleston. Pinckney donated the land so it could be made into a public market, perpetually. Charleston agreed to the stipulations and began building buildings to house the vendors and shoppers in 1804. Booths were sold for $1 and $2 a day, and butchers and fish mongers kept their meats cold on a slab of marble. Every time a fire, tornado, earthquake or hurricane ripped through the low-lying lands, buildings were re-erected and fortified, and the market continued to prosper.
While vendors have obviously changed through the years, the types of goods have transformed as well. You can no longer buy butchers’ goods, but you can buy homemade candies and chocolates. Dairy stands have transformed into jewelry displays and fish mongers have turned into artists. Locals have turned into tourists and Charleston regulars on Bluegreen vacations. The tradesmen who have kept a strong presence in the market, though, are the sweetgrass weavers. This 300 year old Gullah tradition was originally brought to South Carolina by West Africans in the late seventeenth century. While the baskets and fans were originally intended as rice processers and storage units, they are now sold as decorative pieces of artwork.
The front building of the market, on the corner of Meeting and Market, once destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 1841, was originally used by Market Commissioners for meetings and social functions. It now houses the Daughters of the Confederacy Museum, which contains a reference library and exhibits of Civil War-era cannons, uniforms, flags and other Confederate relics.
The mixture of history, charm and modern business makes Charleston a fun place to visit with Bluegreen Vacations. Tour the museum and learn about the gentry before you stroll through the open-air market in search of trinkets to take home. It is a great way to get a feel for what historic Charleston really is. Bluegreen’s resort, The Lodge Alley Inn is conveniently located to the Market. So walk, or take a horse-drawn carriage, over to Market Street and begin browsing!