February 4, 2014
Located on the tip of the Charleston Peninsula, this 6.54 acre park provides a spectacular view of Fort Sumter and Charleston Harbor, where the Ashley and Cooper rivers empty into the Atlantic Ocean. The park was originally known as Oyster Point and later White Point because of the piles of sun-bleached oyster shells found at the edge of the water.
This parcel’s use as a place for public recreation is longstanding. From about 1840 to 1881, a public bathing house stood at the end of King Street (although some sources place the bath house at the end of East Battery), jutting out into the Ashley River. A cake and ice cream parlor was operated on the top floor of the bathing house. Although the bathing house suffered several injuries by storms, it was rebuilt each time until, finally, it was removed in 1881.
There are several memorials and historical markers in the Garden. One of the most notable is in the northeast corner, where a marker was erected in 1943 to commemorate the hanging of the Gentleman Pirate Stede Bonnet. Captain Bonnett and his crew were hung in 1718 and, as was the tradition for pirates, buried below the low water mark in the marshes off White Point Garden.
There is also prominent statue of Sgt. William Jasper who retrieved the “Moultrie flag” (Second SC Regimental flag) after the mast was shot in two at Fort Sullivan (now Moultrie) during the battle of Sullivan’s Island, June 28, 1776. He then attached the flag to an artillery sponge and mounted it on the parapet of the fort. Jasper reportedly exclaimed to Col. Moultrie, “Colonel, don’t let us fight without our flag.” That quote is on the monument near the base on the rear. Jasper became a hero as a result and was offered an officer’s commission, but declined due to embarrassment because he could not read or write! Sgt. Jasper was killed carrying the Second SC Flag at Savannah in 1779. There’s also a monument to him in Savannah.
In a nod to the Garden’s role as a defensive fortification, several military relics are placed around the perimeter of White Point Garden including a gun from the USS Keokuk (an 11 inch cannon) that fired sheels at Fort Sumter in 1863 — this gun was retrieved from the Keokuk after it sank one day following the attack on Ft. Sumter in 1863; two Confederate columbiads (large cannons) that were used in the defense of Fort Sumter; a rare 7-inch Brooke rifle (a large cannon) that was found at Fort Johnson; four 13-inch Union mortars (weighing 17,000 pounds each); a 1918 World War I Howitzer; a French cannon of Revolutionary War vintage that was found in Camden, South Carolina; and a rapid-fire gun from a Spanish ship during the Spanish-American War.
The bandstand in the center of the Garden was completed in 1907, built as a memorial to Mrs. George W. Williams by her daughter, Mrs. Martha W. Carrington. Although the bandstand once hosted regular concerts, in 1978, in response to neighbors about noise and commercial activity, concerts were outlawed at the bandstand. The bandstand was renovated In 1985 and again in 2010 and is now used for weddings and other limited special events.