Walk Among The Ruins Of A Colonial-Era Ghost Town At Dorchester In South Carolina
With oodles of historic sites to visit, the Lowcountry of South Carolina contains a treasure trove of wonder for those enthralled by the history of South Carolina – especially from the Colonial period and moving forward.
One of the most overlooked of them all sits just off the highway not far from a Waffle House on Dorchester Road outside of Summerville.
Part of the South Carolina State Parks inventory of preserved historical sites, Colonial Dorchester holds the remains of a colonial-era ghost town that was abandoned at the start of the Revolutionary War.
In 1696, a very tiny group of settlers from Dorchester, Massachusetts, obtained a surrendered land grant of 1800 acres. Their first task upon arrival was to build a church that would be in the center of their new town, which they (naturally) named Dorchester.
St. George’s Anglican Church (pictured in this illustration) was completed in 1719. The bell tower in the illustration, however, wasn't added until 1751.
During the Revolutionary War, Colonial forces took up residence in Dorchester under the command of Francis Marion.
Once Charleston fell to the British, so too, did Dorchester. Eventually the British were chased out of town but they burned the church on their way out. Along with the town, the church was rebuilt. Both were soon abandoned though. Of the church, only the bell tower remains.
The 325 acres that remain of the original town of Dorchester sit along the Ashley River where, in 1760, a fort was constructed to defend the site against the possibility of a French attack.
Visitors can walk freely among the ruins of this historic site. According to one source, the fort never had an official name during the war and was dubbed Fort Dorchester much later by locals.
The fort is constructed of tabby, a concrete material made of lime, sand, and oyster shells. It is remarkably preserved and well-maintained by the parks system.
It is considered one of the most well-preserved tabby forts constructed from oyster shells in America and is well worth a visit when you're in the Lowcountry.
Other fascinating evidence of the old ghost town of Dorchester include an ancient (well, ancient for America) cemetery.
Surprisingly, visitors may also walk among the headstones to get a better indication of the timelines of those buried in Colonial Dorchester.
Visitors can also drill deeper into the hidden past by attending one of the archaeology sessions. Dorchester is and has for quite some time been a very active archaeological dig.
New evidence of just how the town's people lived during colonial times is always being unearthed here — and there are acres and acres more to explore.
The 'burbs of the town of Summerville have grown up all around Colonial Dorchester.
Rumor has it that when the town's people left Colonial Dorchester centuries ago, many moved to Summerville — and they took with them many of the bricks used in the burned church to build anew in the next town over.
The entrance to
Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site is found just west of Old Trolley Road in Summerville, a mere 26 miles northwest of another historic site in South Carolina: the Battery at White Point Gardens in downtown Charleston.
Colonial Dorchester is open year-round. The hours are 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. during daylight savings time and 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. the remainder of the year. A small admission fee is required for access. Learn more from the official website for
South Carolina State Parks.
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Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site, 300 State Park Rd, Summerville, SC 29485, USA