"Following where my camera leads me!"

"Following where my camera leads me!"

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Washington came to visit

We recently toured the Heyward-Washington House. For quite some time, I had been teaching little fairy granddaughter about George Washington's visit to Charleston, back in 1791. I just do this in small catches....like if we walk by the Heyward-Washington House I would say "George Washington slept here!" Or if we go by Rutledge House, she knows he had a big breakfast there, that type of thing. She knows how all the ladies of Charleston lined up in their fancy ballgowns with fluttering fans and specially made silk sashes (with the President's picture on them!)--- to dance with him at the big Ball our city had for him, and what a big and special occasion it was.
I try to keep it all it all lively and exciting and FUN FOR HER, and not boring. I do hope she grows up loving history as much as I do...but she will be her own person. I try to keep it age appropriate and interesting so she wants to learn. Living here in Charleston, it's practically like living in an actual living history museum/city, I mean, we walk pretty much daily where Washington walked and so much  of our nation's history occurred. 
She had learned in school that Washington was "the Father of our Country", and she had a good understanding of who he was.
So we finally took her inside the "Washington House" as she calls it.
She was Dressed up all "fancy" that day...we had just left church!

Annie dolls might've been played with by children in this neighborhood........but MUCH LATER ON. The dolls became popular around 1915 or so.

The city rented out the Georgian style brick townhome that belonged to  Heyward to President Washington and his entourage for the week he was here. He stayed longer here in Charleston than in any of the other southern cities on his tour.
Thomas Heyward Jr.

Thomas Heyward was later one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. He had been an artillery officer with the South Carolina militia and a patriot leader--during the American Revolutionary War.
He married twice, both times to a woman named Elizabeth.
(Below)...the first Elizabeth, Elizabeth Matthews Heyward:

 The first Elizabeth died in childbirth in Philadelphia. She had six children.
 Quite a few years later, he married the second Elizabeth. She had three children.
Elizabeth (Savage) Heyward

 I'm not sure but I think she also died in childbirth.

President Washington travelled from his home in Philadelphia in May of 1791 with his house staff, his Presidential Secretery (who was from Charleston!), a big fancy white carriage for the President, eleven or more horses, a baggage wagon, slaves, a coachman, extra horses and supplies,  and George's personal horse, Prescott.(a big white charger!) Mr. Washington alternated between riding in the fancy carriage and riding his own white horse for the long long journey to the South.
George Washington climbed to the top of St. Michael's church steeple and he enjoyed the view. At the time, the steeple was the tallest point in all Charleston, and our city was very proud of it. He also attended church here. You can go see the pew he sat in.
this was a great teaching moment!!--Pa-Paw pulled out the dollar bill!
Can you imagine President Washington sitting down here to eat supper?

I think the painting below is Elizabeth Heyward, who married Thomas Heyward.---the FIRST Elizabeth. LOL
Touring old museums and historic houses can be boring for younger kids. I was so happy to see they give the children a scavenger hunt where they must locate all the objects on their sheet. Here granddaughter is intently trying to locate a piece of fancy china!
They give you star stickers to place on the items you find....she was proud of her completed sheet!

What a beautiful blue plate!

......and on upstairs to where Washington rested, relaxed, and slept while he was in our city, so long ago!
I enjoyed telling little granddaughter how President Washington insisted on bringing his faithful companion dog named Cornwallis with him on this trip to Charleston, so the doggie slept here as well! I believe the dog was a greyhound.

 George had a lifelong love for dogs and owned over 50 dogs in his lifetime, of many breeds. I never knew that, did you?

The American Kennel Club recognizes George Washington  for helping develop the breed called "American Foxhound", the result of  George's active breeding program  at his Mount Vernon home-- with different types of American hounds with hounds from France and England.

He kept large kennels for the dogs at Mount Vernon and had hounds, terriers, Dalmations, Newfoundlands, and all kinds of Spaniels.

This bedroom had four big windows, to let in the cooler night breezes, so it was one of the most ventilated bedrooms upstairs. By May, it's usually already very hot here in Charleston, so hopefully the President stayed cool up here.

Love the old canopies on beds. The bed below was owned by the Heyward family. It had an unusual motif of feathers carved on it, instead of the usual and traditional rice themes common in Charleston.
I read that George Washington was well over six feet tall!--so hope this bed was big enough for him! LOL

I think the bed and baby cradle were mahogany--this bed was made about 1780, can you believe it?! The little dressing table was mahogany, cypress, and pine wood. It dates back to 1750!! We were not even the United States yet....

an early "necessary" chair! LOL The chamber pot went underneath it. I suppose that is better than making the trek out into the back garden on cold or wet stormy nights---that is where the outhouse was. We toured that too, and it's all been "modernized" and is nice and usable now! The necessary chair was made about 1770, before we even became a nation. So amazing to me how so much of this displayed is that many years old.....

(above)--the men's "withdrawing room"--for cards, cigars, and brandy

Here I am sitting in the blue front parlour looking at a book of pictures about the house! There were designated chairs for resting, for obvious reasons we couldn't sit on the valuable antiques. LOL There was also plenty of ice cold water offered....it was a very very HOT DAY. It felt good in the house though--the wonders of modern air conditioning, LOL. I wouldn't even want to know the cost of cooling a big old house this size!
The third floor was for children and the nursery and was not open to the public due to fire ordinance laws

the house has so many beautiful paintings!
I really enjoyed the amazing huge bookcases,(so big they had to be put into place in pieces) the paintings, figurines, china, old mirrors and books, clocks and secreteries. I like seeing the old rugs and the fancy furniture too. And the pretty velvet draperies.
Out to the garden and to tour the kitchen house, a separate building. (nearly always separate in these old houses and on the plantations--due to fire hazards...if the kitchen house burned down, at least the main house might be ok.)
below---the old kitchen  house: (built around 1740!)
Fairy granddaughter knows how much her Ma-Maw loves and collects the blue and white porcelain--she was excited to spot this for me!
Cooking with the impossibly heavy pots and tubs and skillets--over open fires-- in the heat of the Charleston summers would've been sheer torture. The enslaved people did it. The laundry area was on the other side,with huge tubs to boil water in to wash the laundry. It was hung out to dry and then had to be ironed. I wish I had gotten a picture of the HEAVY OLD IRONS they had to heat up and use to iron clothes.
The lovely garden is mostly green this time of the year, due to the long hot summer and Fall, but I did find a few bright blooms!

I left with the same feelings I always have after touring our city's plantations and antebellum homes and buildings. There was much grandeur and beauty, fancy things, elegant things, manners and gentlemen and ladies and long beautiful dresses and courting and balls. But I always think of the cruelty and ugliness of slave ownership and how these beautiful homes were the literal workhouses for many GENERATIONS of  enslaved Africans.
 The Heyward family was incredibly wealthy and sent their son Thomas to study law in England. They made their money from and enjoyed their extravagant lifestyle due to forced slave labor and we should always remember most of the wealthy and elite Charleston families prospered from slavery.
The drawing below was done by Elizabeth O'Neill Verner. I love her drawings so much!
I think I read there was once a bakery on the first floor of the home, many many years after George Washington's visit.
this is the building where the big ball was, where Washington danced with all the ladies

The ball was beautifully decorated with glowing lanterns, big wreaths, and many bouquets of beautiful flowers.
This building is now a museum and you can tour it.
I  hope you enjoyed our visit to the house where George Washington stayed.


  1. Wow so much History and what a great way to teach it to your Granddaughter. Thanks for taking us along.

  2. this is something i will probably never see in person, so i really enjoyed your pictures and story. you granddaughters dress is beautiful, it looks like she enjoyed and respected the tour.

    i love scavenger hunts!!