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Charleston Firsts and Oldest

dot The first decisive American victory of the American Revolution was the Battle of Fort Sullivan on Sullivan's Island.
dot  America's first women-owned newspaper.
dot  Nov. 16, 1700: America's first public library
A law passed by the S.C. General Assembly established a provincial library in Charles Towne and provided for its governance. This library, located on St Philip's Street, remained in operation for 14 years.
dot  1706: Oldest Surviving Church
Old St. Andrew's Parish Church, founded and built in 1706, is the oldest surviving church in the Carolinas.
dot  1707: America's first woman artist
America's first recognized woman artist, Charles Towne's own Henrietta Johnson, began painting portraits.
dot Feb. 18, 1735: First opera performed
Colley Cibber's ballad opera Flora, or Hob in the Well, was performed at the Courtroom in Charles Towne.
dot  1736: First Fire Insurance
The first fire insurance in America, the "Friendly Society for Mutual Insurance of Houses against Fire," was founded in Charles Towne in 1736. It was bankrupted by the Great Fire of 1740 which destroyed more than 300 buildings.
dot Feb. 12, 1736: First building constructed solely for use as a theater
The New Theatre in Charles Towne opened with a performance of George Farquhar's The Recruiting Officer, but it closed soon after on March 23, 1736. Today the Dock Street Theatre, located on Church Street, occupies the remodeled New Theatre building.
dot April 1737: First systematic, scientific recording of weather information
Dr. John Lining (1708-1760) took observations of Charles Towne's weather three times a day from his home on Broad Street. He recorded temperature, rainfall, atmospheric pressure, humidity, wind direction, and wind speed.
dot  1741: Middleton Place
Middleton Place, c. 1741, is America's oldest formally landscaped gardens.
dot 1742: Drayton Hall
Completed in 1742, Drayton Hall now stands as one of the oldest and finest examples of Georgian Palladian architecture built before the American Revolution.
dot  1749: Second Oldest Synagogue in continuous use
Formed in 1749, Congregation Beth Elohim is the second oldest synagogue in the United States and the oldest in continuous use.
dot 1762: First musical society
The St Cecilia Society was founded in Charles Towne.
dot 1764: First cotton exported to England
The custom house in London, England recorded a shipment of 8 bales of cotton from Charles Towne.
dot  1780: First Prescription Drug Store
The first prescription drug store began operation in Charles Towne.
dot  January 1773: First public museum
A special committee of the Charles Towne Library Society met to discuss the establishment of a museum in Charles Towne. Several months later another committee was appointed by Lieutenant Governor William Bull II (1710-1791) to collect materials for the new Charleston Museum, which is now located on Meeting Street.
dot Dec. 9, 1773: Oldest municipal Chamber of Commerce in continuous operation
The Charles Towne Chamber of Commerce was organized at Mrs. Swallows Tavern on Broad Street. Today it is called the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce.
dot July 30, 1774: First business publication
The earliest known edition of South-Carolina Price-Current listed prices for 168 things bought and sold in Charles Towne.
dot March 1776: First independent government in the colonies
Four months before the Declaration of Independence was signed, South Carolina adopted a state constitution – drafted by a Provincial Congress – and elected John Rutledge (1739-1800) as the state's president and Henry Laurens (1724-1792) as its vice-president. The titles of these offices were changed to Governor and Lieutenant Governor by the Constitution of 1779.
dot 1781: First eminent architect born in America
Robert Mills (1781-1855), who designed many famous buildings and monuments, was born in Charles Towne.
dot  1785: College of Charleston
Chartered in 1785, the College of Charleston is the oldest municipal college in America. Additionally, it is the only college in America to have four signers of the Declaration of Independence as founding members.
dot Sept. 29, 1786: First golf club
Scottish merchants formed the South Carolina Golf Club in Charleston. Club members played on Harleston's Green in Charleston until 1800.
dot 1789: First cotton mill
Frances Ramage, a planter's widow, established a cotton mill on James Island, a large sea island that forms the southern shore of Charleston harbor.
dot 1802: First tea planted
French botanist Francois Andre Michaux (1770-1855) planted tea at Middleton Barony (now known as Middleton Place) near Charleston.
dot  1820: Poinsettia Plant introduced
Charlestonian Joel R. Poinsett first introduced the popular poinsettia plant to the United States in 1820.
dot 1823: First fireproof building
Construction of Charleston's Fireproof Building began in 1823 and was completed four years later. This building, which is located at 100 Meeting Street, was designed by Robert Mills to house state records. The South Carolina Historical Society, which had offices in the building from 1859 until the end of the Civil War, has been located in the building since 1943.
dot Nov. 21, 1824: First Reform Jewish Congregation
The Reformed Society of Israelites was founded in Charleston by 47 members of Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim after their petition to change the Sephardic Orthodox liturgy was denied.
dot  1830: First Scheduled Train Passenger Service
The Best Friend of Charleston, the nation's first regularly scheduled train offering passenger service, originated from Charleston in 1830. It was the world's largest when the 140 mile rail line was completed to Hamburg, S.C.
dot  1851: First artificial ice
Artificial ice was first made in Charleston by John Gorrie.
dot  1863: The Hunley
The world's first successful submarine attack occurred in Charleston Harbor in 1864 when the Confederate submarine Hunley sank the Union warship Housatonic.


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