With venues as historic as the city itself, the Charleston to Charleston Literary Festival will showcase Charleston's rich tapestry of architecture along with some of today's most vibrant speakers.
Most events will take place in the Charleston Library Society's Main Reading Room, but events will also be held at the Charleston Music Hall and the Circular Congregational Church.
Home of the second oldest circulating library in America, the Beaux Arts Building provides a beautiful setting for literary discussion, with books and historic exhibits surrounding a large, sun-drenched space. Built in 1914 at the height of the city's Gilded Age, it holds court atop King Street and boasts an original marble checkerboard floor, vast marble steps a the entryway, and iconic Palladian windows.
Rotating exhibits highlight the extensive collections found with the building's glass-floored stacks and secure vaults. From books and newspapers of colonial times to the latest releases in contemporary fiction, the Charleston Library Society is a uniquely stunning library, research facility, and event space.
Originally built in 1849-1850 as a passenger station for the South Carolina Railroad and designed by Charleston architect Edward C. Jones, the Charleston Music Hall is an anchoring presence on John Street. This Gothic Revival style building features turrets, traceried lancet windows, sunken panels, and heavy doors, giving it the feel of an ancient European castle.
The building became part of a cotton processing factory after the Civil War, until an 1886 earthquake left it in a state of sad disrepair. It remained empty, a marker of the past, until 1995, when it was restored to its original splendor and transformed into a beautiful local venue for local, regional, and national performers to showcase their talents against the stunning backdrop of one of Charleston's most historic sites.
Charleston Towne's original settlers founded this Protestant (dissenting) church in 1681 on the same site at which the Circular Congregational Church still sits today. It has existed in one state or another ever since, and boasts the City of Charleston's oldest graveyard, with burial monuments dating from 1695.
Through the years the building has undergone many transitions, due to war and fire. Its current sanctuary was completed in 1892, built in a Romanesque style that was truly modern for its times. The building's two distinct forms/shapes hold rich meaning for the church. The circular exterior symbolizes eternity and wholeness, while the Greek cross interior is a Christian symbol of death and resurrection. The worship and meeting spaces are meant to be inspirational to all attending, encouraging all to seek wholeness and community, civic mindedness and faith.
St. Stephen's Episcopal Church was established in 1822 as the first place of worship in the United States where pews were free to all, instead of available to purchase. Early on it was an integrated space where African Americans (both slaves and freedmen) mingled with whites in a single church space.
The original church building on Guignard Street burnt in the great Charleston fire of 1835, and the current church on Society Street was dedicated on November 24, 1836, where it remains, a landmark of the historic Ansonborough neighborhood.
In 1892, George Frederic Degen, priest of St. Stephen's, wrote in summation of the church's overall intent and message, "The poor will always be welcome, and so will the rich, for St. Stephen's will no no distinction of persons." Its message of inclusion remains a part of downtown Charleston's history and heritage today.