Colonial Dorchester—formerly known as Old Fort Dorchester—is a researcher’s dream. A practically untouched historic site, never built over in spite of burgeoning suburbs. A visitor can stand inside a church tower built in the 1750’s, read gravestones of folks whose descendents still live in the area (one of my daughter’s fellow ballet classmates), walk the perimeter of a fort held in turns by the British and American forces in the Revolution. View the exposed foundations of houses that haven’t been occupied in more than 200 years.
A cool, shady spot on the upper Ashley River, where it’s more a creek than a river. Once, however, it was a bustling town on the road from the backcountry to Charleston.
|The Bell Tower of St. George's, Colonial Dorchester|
According to sources (page 1 of the same document is linked above), many of the town's inhabitants moved inland to Georgia in 1752-56, citing a growing population and the area’s unhealthiness. In addition to the intense heat, the town was located on a river between two creeks, so malaria was prevalent. At this point, say the sources, the history of this town ceases to be that of the original Congregationalist community, and becomes that of the trading town, the fort, and St. George Parish.
|The tabby walls of Old Fort Dorchester, up close and personal|
|F&I War event at Colonial Dorchester, Feb 2010|
|Yes, this is the upper Ashley!|
|Remains of old wharf on the Ashley River at Colonial Dorchester|
These days, the site offers a beautiful—and inexpensive!—place to let one's family run. Recent archaeological work has led to the placement of several information plackards and a kiosk where some of the artifacts can be viewed, as well as a diorama of the original town as they know it.
More photos—not mine—can be viewed here at the Quarterman family website. All photos in this post are mine or my daughter Breanna's.
|It's been a long time since this fort was guarded by a redcoat!|
(Fun fact: during the time period portrayed by this event, the redcoats were the good guys!)