Colonial Lake is one of the most iconic gathering spots in Charleston. With beautiful gardens, glistening water, quaint benches, and sidewalks circling the lake, it’s a gorgeous location to enjoy a sunny afternoon. Take a look at these six interesting facts about Colonial Lake to learn how this beloved spot has evolved over hundreds of years.
View even more historic sites on a horse-drawn carriage tour with Classic Carriage Works. Our experienced guides have a vast knowledge of the area and enjoy sharing the story of Charleston, SC. Book today!
Colonial Lake was opened to the public in 1869.
In April of 1768, an act was passed to create a canal from Broad Street to the Ashley River. However, years later, no construction had begun to make this happen. Local residents filed a lawsuit to get the project rolling, and it was finally completed and opened to the public as a common area in 1869.
It was unofficially named Rutledge Street Pond by local residents.
While construction got underway, local residents began calling the new addition to the neighborhood the Rutledge Street Pond. Some residents even today refer to the body of water as “The Pond.” It wasn’t officially named Colonial Lake until 1881.
The original land was deemed to forever be for public use.
As part of the settlement in the lawsuit, local residents stipulated that the land always be available for public use. As you walk along Colonial Lake today, you can see that this promise has certainly been kept and likely always will be!
It was enhanced to rival White Point Garden.
Also in 1881, the Colonial Commons Commission was asked to enhance Colonial Lake to the caliber of White Point Garden. In response, construction began to deepen the lake and surround the water with concrete walls. Benches shaded by oak trees and sidewalks made out of oyster shells were also added to mimic the aesthetics of White Point Garden.
A favorite pastime in the lake was “tub” and boat racing.
Later in the 19th century, Colonial Lake became a popular destination for boaters. While many took to the water in their rowboats, others would use washtubs to float themselves across the lake! Rowboat racing and “Tub Racing” became a common sport at Colonial Lake. However, by 1910, law officials required certain licenses to boat in the pond to restore order.
Colonial Lake contains a garden of 20,000 plants.
In January 2015, the revitalization of Colonial Lake began. In addition to improving the water control system and repairing the original seawall, they enhanced the gardens with the addition of 20,000 plants that consist of over 50 species. The intention was to create a garden that cycled with the seasons so that the greenery would always look gorgeous no matter the time of year.
Book a Tour with Classic Carriage Works
If you enjoyed these six interesting facts about Colonial Lake, you should consider booking a tour with Classic Carriage Works! There are countless historic sites to discover and learn about in our beautiful city, and you’ll get a chance to see so many of them on our horse-drawn carriage tours. We look forward to seeing you soon!