Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site

Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site

From 1697 until the start of the Revolutionary War, Dorchester flourished as a trade town along the Ashley River. Today it’s a state park that preserves remarkable, well-preserved archaeological remains.

Wandering through the ruins, visitors can admire the brick bell tower of St. George’s Church and catch a glimpse of a log wharf during low tide. The park also hosts regular Process of Discovery programs that allow the public to assist archaeologists in sifting through dirt and cleaning previously found artifacts. More by clicking here.

The History

With a history dating back to the late 1690s, the Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site is a fascinating glimpse into the past. The 325-acre park is home to the ruins of an old church, a colonial fort, and ongoing archaeological excavations.

Founded by Congregationalist settlers from Massachusetts, Dorchester was a thriving trading town before the Revolutionary War. Fear of a French invasion led to the construction of the tabby fort and powder magazine in 1757. The church, later renamed St. George’s Anglican Church, was used for worship until it was burned during the Revolutionary War.

The ruins of the church and tabby fort make for beautiful photo backdrops. The surrounding woods and Ashley River offer plenty of scenic landscape opportunities as well. The park also hosts a variety of historical programs throughout the year, with guides dressed in period clothing reenacting scenes from colonial life. Keep an eye on the calendar to see what events are happening when you visit.

The Fort

Atop a high point overlooking the Ashley River, this site is home to the best-preserved tabby fort in the country. Built between 1757 and 1760, the walls were constructed with oyster shells, lime, and sand – a simplified version of classic European fortification design that included “half-bastions” projecting out from the corners. The fort’s strategic location near Charleston made it a key military site during the Revolutionary War.

The church tower ruins and fort at this park are a great backdrop for photos, especially on a brisk fall day with blue sky and cool temperatures. The surrounding evergreen and deciduous trees give the landscape a mix of colors.

This 325-acre park is great for walking or relaxing with family and friends. It also offers an opportunity to witness archaeologists unearthing historical artifacts and to learn more about South Carolina history in a very accessible way. This is a wonderful spot to explore local history in Summerville SC. This unique place is a must-see!

The Church

The ruins of the church and graveyard are a sight to behold. This 325-acre park is home to old brick church towers, a Revolutionary War fort, and more. It is the perfect place to hike, picnic, or take pictures. A brisk autumn day is an ideal time to visit because the rusty church ruins seem to come to life with the bright sunlight and cool temperatures.

The site was once the heart of the town, whose thriving economy centered on indigo and rice plantations. The community had a church, a school, and even a library. Dorchester’s strategic location on the Ashley River made it a key military site during the Revolutionary War.

There are still some hints of the town’s past to be seen, including a log wharf, a well-preserved oyster shell tabby fort, and ongoing archaeological digs. The museum and research center are a great way to learn more about the community’s history, as well.

The Gardens

The remarkably preserved archaeological remains at Colonial Dorchester offer visitors an authentic glimpse into the town that flourished along the Ashley River inland from Charleston from 1697 until the Revolutionary War in 1775. The park includes an old brick church tower, a Revoluti…

By the early 1800 little remained of this once bustling trading town but the church and fort walls. They were scavenged for use elsewhere and the Great Charleston Earthquake of 1886 further demolished what had survived.

Fear of a French invasion prompted the building of a powder magazine and fort at Dorchester in 1757. That and the site’s advantageous location made it an important military post until the Revolutionary War.

This is a great place to bring the kids for some hands-on history and it’s a quick, scenic drive from Charleston. Afterward, head into the self-proclaimed birthplace of sweet tea, Summerville SC, for a refreshing drink and some support from local small businesses. Check out this interesting post!



Driving directions from Curb Appeal Pressure Washing to Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site

Driving directions from Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site to Ashley River Park



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