Granville Bastion


Looking north along the east face of Granville's Bastion

Looking north along the east face of Granville’s Bastion

Last week I had an opportunity to visit Granville’s Bastion, under the Missroon House (headquarters of the Historic Charleston Foundation) at 40 East Bay Street, with Walled City Task Force co-chair, Katherine Pemberton. With the aid of a couple of shop lights, a tape measure, and a compass, we were able to take a number of photos and measurements that will aid our future efforts to document and re-imagine the former appearance of this late-seventeenth-century structure. As you can see in the photo here, a significant portion of the bastion’s once-mighty walls remain intact under the Missroon House, even after the bastion was razed to street level in 1785. In fact, nearly the entire length of its east face, measuring approximately ninety feet from south to north, still stands approximately four feet above the sand. Using plats and descriptions dating from the 1690s to the 1990s, in conjunction with these physical remains, there is still much to learn about the design and construction of this historic structure.

Want to learn more about Granville’s Bastion, the brick “fortress” that guarded the southeast corner of colonial Charleston? Please join me for a free program at the Charleston County Public Library titled:

“Granville’s Bastion, 1696–1785: Charleston’s First Brick Fortress.”

Time: Wednesday, March 26th 2014 at 6:00 p.m.

Place: Second Floor Classroom, Charleston County Public Library, 68 Calhoun St., 29401.

For more information, please contact Dr. Butler at butlern[at]ccpl.org or 843–805–6968.

Granvill's Bastion in 1739

Granville’s Bastion as it appeared in 1739

Commissioned in 1696 and dismantled in 1785, Granville’s Bastion was Charleston’s first brick “fortress” and the principal defensive work along the Cooper River waterfront. Here twelve cannon guarded the southeast corner of the town, overlooking a small beach where royal governors and visiting dignitaries were received with pomp and ceremony. Only its foundations remain today, under the present Missroon House, but the surviving materials provide sufficient clues to facilitate a conjectural reconstruction. Please join historian Nic Butler on November 28th for an illustrated review of the history of Granville’s Bastion, and learn how new technology can be used to render a 3D model of this once-formidable structure.

Granville’s Bastion: Charleston’s First Brick Fortress

Place: Charleston County Public Library, 2nd Floor Classroom

Time: Wednesday, November 28th 2012, at 6:30 p.m.

For more information, contact Dr. Nic Butler 843-805-6968 or at butlern[at]ccpl.org.

Missroon House (center)

On 21 December 2009, a City of Charleston’s stormwater drainage crew parked next to the Missroon House, No. 40 East Bay Street, to address a routine problem. Their equipment had detected a subterranean leak in the main drain running down the center of East Bay Street, near the point where East Bay Street becomes East Battery Street. After opening a small hole in the asphalt road surface, the work crew dug a few feet down and found the leak in the old nineteenth-century brick arched drain. In the process, they also uncovered a small portion of the south wall of Granville Bastion.


Walled City Task Force co-chair Katherine Saunders was right on the spot since the Missroon House, the home of the Historic Charleston Foundation, literally sits directly on top of the eastern portion of Granville Bastion. With her iPhone, she snapped a few photographs to document both the location and the materials. As you can see in the photos below, the nineteenth-century drain, constructed of grayish bricks on the right, intersects the bright reddish-orange bricks of the colonial bastion. The Task Force encountered a very similar phenomenon while digging at South Adger’s Wharf in January 2008. In both cases, the colonial brickwork was excised just enough to make room for the drain

Granville Bastion was the first and the largest of Charleston’s brick bastions, commissioned by an act of the legislature in late 1696. During the early years of the eighteenth century it was frequently called simply “the Fort” because of its size and its importance to the town’s waterfront defenses. It was here that each of the colonial governors was formally welcomed, and the birthdays of the king and queen of England were publicly toasted.

While this brief sighting on 21 December 2009 did not include any exploratory digging or archaeological investigation, it did provide valuable confirmation that substantial remnants of Granville Bastion survive under the roadbed of modern East Bay Street. A substantial portion of southeast corner of Granville Bastion is exposed under the foundation of the Missroon House, several yards east of the street, but that area is not easily accessible and is not open to the public. For the time being, the remnants of Charleston’s first brick “fort” lie safely hidden beneath the modern hardscape, invisible to the throngs of tourists walking along the High Battery along Charleston’s picturesque waterfront.

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