No doubt about it, Charleston is, well, charming! Everything about it from the Pineapple Fountain to shrimp and grits, from the historic homes to the Southern hospitality, Charleston simply exudes charm.
One of my favorite little discoveries on this trip was the complete Gateway Walk—a charming stroll if ever there was one. I kept reading about it, but I found myself a little confused about its length and the path it takes, so I thought I’d write about it and its lovely stops along the way!
How Long is the Gateway Walk?
The Walk itself is only three blocks, or about 1/2 mile. It traverses beautiful gardens and church properties between Archdale Street and Church Street. This is a screenshot of the walk I took, starting at St. John’s Lutheran Church and ending at St. Philip’s Church.
While the walk itself is quite short, I meandered my way around the sites and put in just under a mile. I popped into the churches that were open along the way, as well as some other unexpected sites that happened to be nearby. The walk took me just 30 minutes, even with stops, but feel free to take your time, sit on the benches provided, and enjoy the walk as long as you like!
The Gateway Walk is maintained by the Garden Club of Charleston, and the gates should be unlocked and open daily from 8:30am-5:00pm. For reference, the official starting address is 4 Archdale Street, and the ending address is 142 Church Street. Click here for a printable brochure and map.
The Route and Sites
You can go either direction on the Gateway Walk, but I suggest starting at the Archdale Street entrance next to St. John’s Lutheran Church and the Unitarian Church.
This church may or may not be open, depending on the day or the season, but the building dates from 1818. Its graveyard is connected with the one at the Unitarian Church through a gate.
I got very lucky that this one was open on a Tuesday! Architecturally, this is one of the most impressive churches I’ve seen. The architect’s plans were influenced by the Henry the VII Chapel in Westminster Abbey in London.
Am I the only person who didn’t know that membership libraries exist? It’s true! This one started with a group of young men in 1748, before public libraries existed. This building was completed in 1914 and has housed the Library Society ever since. Pop in for a look!
The Gibbes Museum of Art is home to many lovely artifacts and works of art, but its courtyard out back is particularly beautiful on a nice day! There are benches and a nice water feature to enjoy as part of the Gateway Walk.
This church and its graveyard are hard to miss! The church is indeed circular, and the current structure dates from 1890, though other buildings have stood on this site. This location has belonged to the Congregational Church (a catch-all for non-Anglican Christians) since 1681. Its graveyard is the oldest in the whole city of Charleston.
The cemetery at St. Philip’s boasts John C. Calhoun, as well as signers of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution! The church is known for its 200-foot steeple, which can be seen all over the city.
From here I’ve taken the liberty of including some other stops nearby. Though not on the trail, it would be too bad if you skipped them!
This is the only French Huguenot Church in the country! I couldn’t quite believe it. So many Huguenots settled here from France that they actually named the area around this church the French Quarter, as it is still known today. Definitely worth a stop because it’s just across the street from the Gateway Walk.
Would you believe this was the first theatre ever in what is now the United States? It’s true! The Dock Street Theatre originally opened in 1736 with the comedy The Recruiting Officer. Since then it’s been rebuilt and reinvented (once in 1809 as the Planter Hotel, which is the current building), and has been a theatre again since 1935. Why Dock Street? Queen Street was formerly Dock Street, where the theatre gets its name!
I hope you will take a moment out of your day to enjoy the Gateway Walk, which is a bit of peace in the bustling city center!
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