Kinsey Burden was one of the most successful cotton planters in America. Charles Cotesworth Pinckey signed the Constitution of the United States. Jonathan Lucas invented the first steam-powered mill. These people aren’t only important names in history books; they’re members of Liz Duren’s family tree, whose Charleston roots stretch as far back as 1696, when her ancestor Solomon Legare first arrived.
During her 90-minute photo walking tours of Charleston, Liz combines her vast knowledge of the city’s history with her passion for photography. As a photojournalist who’s won a Best of Weddings award from The Knot in 2010, Liz is inseparable from her camera, which she totes around as she leads tourists to Charleston’s picturesque landmarks. After her tours, she sends participants a link to an online gallery that has all the shots from the outing.
Charlestowne Pub Stroll's knowledgeable guides cover nearly 300 years of history during their three-hour walking tours, shedding light on the city's libation-steeped past. Guide dressed in full pirate or colonial regalia lead guests along Meeting Street, Broad Street, and throughout the Charleston historic district as they point out the area’s most historically significant pubs. They regale guests with tales of Prohibition-era criminals, early drinking habits, and other historical oddities, including that time when drinking a full gallon of milk was temporarily outlawed in Charleston in the 1900s. Throughout the tour, groups will stop into select watering holes to sample the storied brews for themselves at an extra cost.
The Ordinance of Secession was signed in 1860, setting off a chain reaction that led to the bloodiest war America had yet seen. Charleston faced a bombardment of fighting from day one and fought back against Union troops and cannon fire for five difficult years. Civil War reenactor and local history consultant Jack Thomson relates these events through a combination of storytelling and period photographs on tours through the historic downtown area.
Often speaking in first person, Thomson narrates the walking tour as his he and his audience have stepped back in time. Throughout his tours, he introduces characters from the time including Gus Smythe, a Confederate signal corps sergeant who views the bombing of Charleston Harbor, and Jane Wightman, a free person of color who owned a brick house on Chalmers Street. Thomson's knowledge of the period is unparalleled. He penned Charleston at War, comparing the old city to its current incarnation, worked as a reenactor for 40 years and appeared in several films, served in the Army as a motion-picture photographer, and has amassed a collection of 118 Civil War photographs that remind tourists what life was like before Scrunchies became en vogue.
It's safe to say that when it comes to Charleston's history, Tricia Goron knows her stuff. A native Charlestonian, she used her studies of local lore and training with veteran tour guides to delight passengers as a rickshaw and carriage driver before moving to walking tours in 2008. Now, she peppers her historical and haunted tours with facts previously known only by locals or well-studied ghosts. During daytime or nighttime strolls, she shares the stories of local figures and landmarks with attentive and wide-eyed visitors. From revealing the origin of the city's famous nickname to revealing interesting tidbits hidden along Rainbow Row, her tours expose the city's history through easy-going, engaging anecdotes. Tricia also contributes a little local color of her own; in addition to her job as a tour guide, she once wrangles spirits on a ghost-packed episode of A&E's Flip This House set just up the road in Georgetown.
Eric Lavender is one of very few men in the world who can show up for work each day in a pirate costume and expect to keep his job. The licensed guide and professional storyteller, who has been featured on networks such as the Travel Channel and SCETV, also has an unconventional coworker—Captain Bob, a chatty blue and gold macaw who perches on his arm. Sometimes aided by other guides in pirate and colonial garb, he introduces visitors to lesser-known aspects of Charleston's more than 300-year history on walking tours to National Historic Landmark buildings.
During his signature pirate tour, Eric divulges stories of buccaneer revelry and crimes, such as Blackbeard's harbor blockade, or unveils local spooky legends and pieces of Gullah lore on his ghost and pirate tour. Eric also leads custom walking tours and teaches children about pirate lore and city history through his educational programs. And, on pub tours, guides show visitors to some of the city's historic taverns, where they reveal which colonial musicians got their start at open-mic nights.