As we stepped onto the Battery promenade (sometimes called the High Battery), we were glad of our heavier jackets, as the wind was fierce. Eventually, though, the sunny skies would warm us up. The Battery was named for the artillery battery that was placed on the point, where White Point Gardens now stand.
I had already been tripping over the uneven cobbles and stone walkways, and this didn’t change once I reached the Battery. I have a tendency to assume that walkways will be smooth, so I pay more attention to my surroundings than where I’m putting my feet. But all bets are off, in Charleston, because most sidewalks are made of stones that wobble and jut up in unexpected places.
The first house you see in my pictures of the Battery seems to be a miniature White House, with a railed off section on the roof that made me wish I could go up there and see the view. Maybe they have a good spot for sunbathing in the summer weather… then again, I suppose Southern belles didn’t do that.
The next house could be called the Pink Gingerbread house, I suppose, or even the Owl House. I wouldn’t know, but if you look on the upper front porch (way at the top of the house), there’s a fake owl that sits on the railing. I have no idea why, but it’s been there for years and years. I don’t know if the upper side porch counts as a gabled porch, or what, but I love how it seems to have grown right up and out of the roof.
The next couple of houses all resemble each other a bit, with a more rectangular shape and similar styles to their side porches. I love the side porches of Charleston homes, but I always know that they’d never look that cool, set off on a piece of property in the boonies. The narrow style would look odd anywhere else.
I got a closer angle on the next house, when we walked down the Battery on the other side of the road, later that morning. The pale pink house, with its delicate iron porch railings out front, has a long, shady brick driveway, guarded by a large magnolia tree. That shade just beckoned to you, but many of these are private homes, so you can’t just invade their yards (though I’m sure there are obnoxious people that do).
Their purple neighbor (about the color of black cherry ice cream, wouldn’t you say?) was less interesting, but at least it had a different color to tell it apart with. I can’t be certain, but it almost looks like the door color matches the rocking chair on the second story porch. Gives the main color scheme of the house a bigger punch, wouldn’t you say?
The brick follow-up to that one, with the green trim and a tilted porch brought another detail of some of the porches to my attention. Assuming they didn’t have modern ways of draining off the water that might accumulate after a bad storm, many porches have a bit of a tilt to them, making the houses look slightly unbalanced. I was having a hard enough time taking pictures that didn’t make the houses look crooked, but the slanted porches made this worse. But they have no need for gutters, since any rainwater will just slide off.
I paused to see how far down the Battery we had come. You may recognize that small brick building from my previous post, as its across the street from Rainbow Row. Also, these large stone “tiles” that make up the battery, some are not very steady, and if you step on a corner, they’ll shift underfoot. Of course, you’d have to put some serious weight on one end to get it to come up like a see-saw, but it’s disconcerting to feel one of those move under you.
Another pink house came next, but this one captured my attention just because of the winding metal staircase in the middle of the second story porch, which leads to the third story porch. I love winding staircases, whether they’re hid in corners or way out in the open. I am just as fascinated by the one in the library of The Music Man movie as with the one in the library of the Biltmore House.
The house that stands on the corner, right before White Point Gardens (what I formerly would have called Battery Park), is extremely pretty, and not just because it’s easier to see from the corner. Each story of this house seems to have a different design to the iron guard rails in front of the windows. My favorites are the ones on the second floor. This one also has the slanted porches on all levels, for rain run-off.
After visiting White Point Gardens (Battery Park), we walked back on the side closest to the antebellum houses. But first, we passed a bed-and-breakfast with a beautiful wrought iron fence and a live oak that draped over everything, loaded with Spanish moss and ferns. If I could afford it, I would stay in that bed-and-breakfast, just to get a closer look at its front garden and the live oak. Of course, the house was lovely as well, but it was harder to see, that close to the fence.
Many times along our walk, we saw the large pieces of granite that were probably used to mount a horse, rather than find someone to give you a hand up. Often, these stones were accompanied by the horse-head hitching posts. Also, from this angle, you can see the steps that help you get up to the Battery promenade from the street. If they’ve been there since before the Civil War, that would explain the double staircase on each one. I remember a tour guide telling me that the double staircases were so that the men could go up one side, and the ladies on the other, so the guys wouldn’t glimpse the ankles of the women. Shocking, you know!
I had passed the yellow brick house, earlier, but it had large hedges blocking much of the view, and I found it uglier than most. However, it IS for sale, if anyone really wants to buy a place on the Battery. And once I was that close to the house, I could take a picture through the fence. We were surprised to see those large evergreen tree/shrubs are held up by wires… maybe the wind could easily bring them down?
And another joy of walking along the fence-line is to be closer to all the flowers. Many fences were thickly wound with wisteria vines, which are thick and woody like the branches of a tree. They’re only beginning to flower and let out little whiffs of their wonderful scent. Most Southerners, in other areas of the state, look on the wisteria vines as weeds, or something little better, as they wind their way into trees and only bloom in the spring. The rest of the year, they’re either unnoticeable or uninteresting.
I was unsurprised to find the azaleas blooming in Charleston, while they’re only budding in the Upstate. But I can tell you honestly that I did not “improve” the colors on these pink ones. The southern sunshine did that, all by itself.