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Step backwards in time to the American Revolution with a visit to the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon.

From The Pinch

By Car 5 Minutes
By Walk 19 Minutes
Get Directions

Details

Address 122 E Bay St
Phone

843-727-2165

Website

http://www.oldexchange.org/

Hours

Monday - Saturday 9 :00 am - 5:00 pm
Sunday 11:00 am - 5:00 pm

A building with many roles that have served to cement its place in history, the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon is a must-see monument to Charlestonian and American history alike. Completed in 1771, it has been a British prisoner-of-war dungeon, an entertainment hall for George Washington, a meeting place for the ratification of the Constitution, and more. Its Georgian facade and Palladian windows make the building right at home in downtown Charleston; it was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1973. The building is now a museum operated by the Daughters of the American Revolution.

The South Carolinian government originally built The Exchange to serve as a public market, meeting place, and jail. Its size and elegance reflected the city’s wealth and power at the time. However, in 1780, when the British captured Charleston during the American Revolution, they turned the building into a barracks for British soldiers, as well as a jail for American prisoners-of-war. A 2012 study into British use of the building revealed the identities of 120 of the prisoners who were kept there, although the identities of countless more prisoners remain a mystery.

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In 1788, South Carolina held their convention for the ratification of the US Constitution at the Exchange. The building is now only one of four in the whole country in which the Constitution was originally ratified. The Exchange was later used for balls and other entertainments during George Washington’s 1791 visit to Charleston. Before the Civil War, the Exchange was Charleston’s primary location for public slave auctions, making this site a crucial one in the history of the domestic slave trade. The building was abandoned during the Civil War due to damage it received from Union shells, but it was given to the Daughters of the American Revolution to preserve in 1913. 

Inside the Old Exchange, visitors can also see the Half-Moon Battery, which was excavated in 1965. The Half-Moon Battery is the only remaining portion of the old Charles Towne city wall that is open to the public. The wall itself was originally constructed in 1701.

The Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon also hosts many educational programs that show off Charleston’s rich history. From a George Washington scavenger hunt and a Pirate Tour to a class on Enslavement and Reconstruction, people of all ages can learn something. Visitors can also explore the top two floors of the building, which exhibit the history of the Exchange, and take a guided tour of the cellar, which is known as the Provost Dungeon. Guides in colonial-style dress are available throughout the building to answer guest questions and to share more of the building’s history. 

Admission to this treasure trove of American history begins at just $12 for adults.