Tantalizing Tour


For those discovering Charleston for the first time, walking tours provide arguably the most enjoyable, informative way to enjoy the historic city. One of the very best is “Charleston Footprints” with 7th-generation Charleston native Michael Trouche.

  Michael grew up on Legare Street, in the famous South of Broad district, and his family has lived in the historic downtown area since 1793. He is author of two highly-popular books on Charleston – Charleston Yesterday and Today and The Charm of Charleston.

  The Charleston Footprints tour begins in the French Quarter and Michael carries on a lively, detailed description of landmarks, local culture and curiosities as the tour wends its way down enchanting cobblestone streets and into historic interiors. At the famed Dock Street Theater, Michael explains how the stage was recreated from its long-lost colonial origins, and how he was once involved in a hilarious incident on stage during a local theater production. On certain days, the old Huguenot Church is open, and Michael takes guests inside for a look at the grand Henry Erben tracker organ that was being pilfered by Union troops in 1865, only to have the local organist talk them in to putting it back, where it still plays today. Through Washington Park, the tour wanders past giant live oaks, which Michael explains were the foundation for one of Charleston’s most memorable scenes in modern times.

 Crossing into the famous South of Broad district, Michael’s tour enters the scintillating sanctuary of St. Michael’s church, the oldest in the downtown area, opened in 1761. From descriptions of its incredible Tiffany details to details on famous visitors and odd ordinances involving the church, Michael gives visitors an appreciation of what they are seeing and touching that is unsurpassed by any other guide. The church yard at St. Michael’s is still another feature only available to those who walk, and includes the fascinating stories of burial techniques, famous graves (including two signers of the U.S. Constitution), and unique stories of such traditional torments as “stranger’s fever”.

  Drawing attention to otherwise overlooked areas of interest, Michael explains the story of notable hand-made artifacts, such as blown glass, huge columns, picturesque roof tops, carved stones and woodwork, wrought iron, and the African origins of sweet grass basket weaving. With existing buildings and landmarks, Michael gives an intimately-detailed glimpse into Charleston’s past, offering a tangible feel for aspects of life. Where and how slaves lived, alleys once used for rope-making, buildings converted from stables and outdoor kitchens, methods used to sweep chimneys or make bricks, and on and on.

  Down quaint, hidden areas, Michael takes the tour through the heart of historic Charleston to the stunning waterfront vistas of the famous Battery, where people once stood to watch the firing on Fort Sumter that initiated the Civil War. There, Michael explains a waterfront that once was piled high with cotton, rice and slaves, and where unforgettable events occurred that shape South Carolina’s and American history, from the battles that were fought to the curious “Palmetto flag” flying today.

 Michael’s tour is marked by flourishing gardens and statuesque trees, and winds across the bricks of old Church Street over areas that were reclaimed from creeks and still bear colonial artifacts today. Michael remembers sites that were much differently used in his boyhood, such as the beautiful single-family house that was once home to “Pete and Harry’s” grocery, and a front for chicken fights out back. Finishing near grand colonial houses and the mystifying tale of “chevaux de Frise” on Meeting Street, the tour is as complete an introduction to Charleston as can be offered.     


Entasis Illusion

     The beauty of Charleston can offer a challenge to the eye of the beholder in Hiberian Hall in Charleston, SCsome of the city’s most historic landmarks. A number of the grand facades on the peninsula, such as the 1825 portico at South Carolina Society Hall, feature an ancient architectural illusion called entasis.
     This barely-noticeable feature entails a tapering decrease in circumference of portico columns at from bottom to top. It was first used by ancient Greeks to on their towering temples to compensate for a linear distance in perception that naturally tricks the eye. If columns are the same breadth all the way up, the width ratio appears concave from eye-level, and the solution is to reverse the image by making the column convex. 
     The word entasis comes from Greek, meaning “to stretch tight”. The concept was perpetrated in the designs of Andrea Palladio, whose work inspired the Classic, Roman and Greek architecture that is evident throughout Charleston today. Even the Rolls Royce company got in the entasis act by the 20th century, adding the illusion to grills on the front of its cars to give the frame a more substantial look.
     Most of the larger columns on Charleston’s historic buildings are made of brick, and covered with stucco, offering bricklayers a challenge in building courses and bonding with a taper that nevertheless had to hold up massive pediments. Several, such as the columns of Hibernian Hall, had to be rebuilt after the earthquake of 1886. 


Charleston On Foot, aka Charleston Footprints, is now offering morning and afternoon tours of historic Charleston. Featuring a wonderful array of architecture, gardens, ironwork, historic landmarks, legends, and cultural heritage,the tour is hosted by seventh-generation Charlestonian Michael Trouche and begins at 10:30 am and 2:30 pm from 108 Meeting Street, at the Historic Charleston Foundation Gift Shop, lasting approximately two hours. Reservations are required, by contacting Michael at 843-478-4718 or e-mail at: tours@charlestonfootprints.com

  Michael personalizes each tour with events, characters, dialects and legends from his own Charleston experience, and even has a "test" question at the end for the inquisitive mind. One favorite is to guess why many Charleston "single" houses feature very noticeable odd exterior windows that do not match other windows across each floor.


walking or driving tours

Local author and seventh-generation Charlestonian Michael Trouche offers an entertaining way to discover the historic city with his personable and informative walking and driving tours. Michael grew up in the historic district, and his knowledge of the area's fascinating history, architecture, and legends is unsurpassed. His two-hour group tour features a mesmerizing route along cobblestone streets, through historic alleys, past hidden gardens and overlooking stunning views of architectural gems and glorious Charleston harbor. Michael also offers private driving and/or walking tours for couples, friends and families that add many of the often-undiscovered treasures of Charleston. Information and reservations can be found at www.charlestonfootprints.com or by calling 843-478-4718.