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.