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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • UNFAIR TO BABIES, 1936

Ashes by Now: 1865

Ashes by Now: 1865

1865. "Charleston, South Carolina, after the Bombardment. Ruins of the Cathedral of St. John and St. Finbar." The city after shelling by the Federal Navy and the approach of Sherman's troops. Wet plate glass negative. View full size.

 

Sherman did not go to Charleston.

Sherman's troops did not go to Charleston!

[No one said he did. However, his overland approach from the north led to the evacuation of the city in February 1865. - Dave]

Then and Now

The Cathedral of St. John is a thriving part of modern-day Charleston. The attached photo shows the current structure, which follows along the same lines of architecture. The church is currently installing a bell tower and undergoing other renovations. Their website tracking the restoration is http://www.stjohnthebaptistcathedralrestoration.com/

Making the rubble bounce

These churches, along with the Circular Church (seen in some of the other Charleston photos here), were being rebuilt after the fire of 1861. Needless to say, work was interrupted by the naval bombardment, and reconstruction had to wait until Reconstruction.

Double Trouble

The Cathedral of St. John and St. Finbar, consecrated in 1854, was already in ruins by the time of the Federal bombardment. On December 11, 1861, a fire that began in a factory on Hasell Street destroyed much of Charleston, including the cathedral. The subsequent fundraising campaign for a new cathedral lasted 45 years, and the cornerstone for the present Cathedral of St. John the Baptist was laid in 1890. It is built on the foundation of the 1854 church.

I'm lovin' it

Apparently Charleston had at least one McDonald's restaurant as far back as the mid-19th Century.

 
THE 100-YEAR-OLD PHOTO BLOG
Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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