The Old Exchange Building was the state’s commercial, political and social epicenter during the Golden Age.Today it’s the most significant historic public building in Charleston, and a highly advertised family attraction.
Although the building has many exhibits to enjoy, don’t expect “fireworks” or dramatic re-enactments on the guided Dungeon tour ($8 adults, $4 children 7-12).
The museum is open daily 9AM to 5PM.
You can park in the metered lot left of the building or the garage on Mid-Atlantic Wharf ($1 per hour, $10 per day).
Things to know before you go
1. The tour is geared toward kids and lasts about 30 minutes.
My 5 years old really enjoyed it, she was intrigued about all the (fake) rats roaming around.
2. Mystery seekers should consider one of the city night tours, like the “Charleston Ghost and Dungeon Tour” offered by Bulldogs Tour ($18 adults, $10 children over 7. The website offers a $2 coupon). At night the Dungeon will make you shiver with its pitch dark pathways and eerie sounds…you may even catch an orb or two on your digital camera.
3. History buffs will appreciate the 2 stories filled with photos, original artifacts, exquisite furniture and stories from the Revolutionary and Civil War periods. I was humbled by the many pictures depicting the overwhelming destruction Charleston suffered during Civil War.
Most significant events that took place at the Old Exchange building (data from the official website):
• Stede Bonnet “the Gentleman Pirate” and crew are imprisoned prior to their hanging at the Battery Park.
• British tea is seized and stored in the Exchange cellars.
• South Carolina drafts its first constitution and declares independence from Great Britain.
• General William Moultrie hides 10,000 pounds of gunpowder in the cellar.
• Colonel Isaac Hayne is imprisoned in the Exchange, and later executed by the British.
• George Washington is entertained here several times during his Southern Tour.
• The Charleston Post Office moves into the Exchange.
• The Half-Moon Battery, part of the original Charleston fortification is excavated beneath the cellar of the Exchange.
4. There are many cool colonial artifacts throughout the Exchange: the “Stair to Nowhere”, the Half Moon wall, the 17th century bronze Spanish war vest, the 18th century flintlock British pistols, the Post Office replica, Gen. William Moultrie waistcoast and Gen. Marion Francis lucky charm buckeyes and much more…
5. Children will enjoy the stories and graphical representations of the most famous Pirates who used to rule the Charleston Harbor and the Sea Islands: Stede Bonnet, Blackbeard, Calico Jack, Anne Bonny and Mary Read.
Nearby family attractions:
• The kids favorite Waterfront Park (free)
• The Old Slave Mart Museum ($7)
• SC Aquarium ($18 adults, $11 children over 2)
• The Powder Magazine ($2)
• The Market.
If you decide to vacation at Folly Beach make sure to check out the beautiful Morris Island Lighthouse and to visit the country’s only Tea Plantation, that produces the flavorful, aromatic and truly eco-friendly American Classic Tea.
Filed under: Carolina Beaches, Charleston, Folly Beach, Historic Carolina Sites, Isle of Palms, Museums, Sullivan's Island Tagged: | amazing Revolutionary War monuments, Carolina oldest public building, Charleston Dungeon photo, Charleston free kids activities, Charleston historic sites, Charleston most important monuments, Colonial guns clothes jewelry artifacts, Dungeon guided tour details, Half Moon Battery ruin, Old Exchange underground tour, South Carolina colonial crafts, what kids love to do on Dungeon tour