Old Exchange/ Provost Dungeon
It’s far from glamorous, but nonetheless the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon (122 E. Bay St., 843/727-2165, www.oldexchange.com, daily 9 a.m.–5 p.m., $7 adults, $3.50 children and students) at the intersection of East Bay and Meeting Streets is brimming with history.
It’s known as one of the three most historically significant colonial buildings in the United States (Philadelphia’s Independence Hall and Boston’s Faneuil Hall being the other two).
This is actually the old Royal Exchange and Custom House, with the cellar serving as a British prison, all built in 1771 over a portion of the old 1698 fortification wall, some of which you can see today.
Three of Charleston’s four signers of the Declaration of Independence did time downstairs for sedition against the crown. Later, happier times were experienced upstairs in the Exchange, as it was here that the state selected its delegates to the Continental Congress and ratified the U.S. Constitution, and it’s where George Washington took a spin on the dance floor.
Nearly a victim of early 20th-century shortsightedness—it was almost demolished for a gas station in 1913—the building now belongs to the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Fans of kitsch will get a hoot out of the animatronic, “Hall of the Presidents”–style figures. Kids might especially get a scary kick out of the basement dungeon, where the infamous pirate Stede Bonnet was imprisoned in 1718 before being hanged with his crew on the Battery.
© Jim Morekis from Moon Charleston & Savannah, 4th Edition