The Gold Mine in the Closet: the Charleston Tornadoes of 1938

Sugar has a gold mine in the closet. He started pulling out nuggets a year ago to share with me. He knew that I’d share them with you out in the big world. 

His parents lived in Charleston during the 1930s. The subject of this particular nugget is 1938 when they lived in a place called The Confederate Home. There’s a good bit about the Home out there on the Internet. Apparently it began as one thing and became another, as in a home for widows and children of Confederate soldiers, and became apartments in later years. 

At any rate, Sugar’s Mom and Dad lived there, and had retired for the night when they heard a noise that they described like a freight  train that tore the roof off the building. 

Sugar’s father was a shutterbug with the Kodak Brownie, and they went about the next day to see the sights. 


This was most probably made from the porch of the Confederate Home. There’s St. Michael’s, and to the right is City Hall and a memorial obelisk. Much help was given in identifying these photos by a FaceBook group Charleston History Before 1945.


City Hall 1938


The Confederate Home 1938


Confederate Home 1938


Gate in yard after the tornado, 1938


“Our house after storm 1938”


The inscription says “Chalmers” which is a street in Charleston.


Broad Street after storm 1938


The Timrod Hotel, 1938


Washington Park after the storm, 1938


68 Broad Street, Charleston, S.C., after the storm in 1938


From the Sunday morning paper after the storm, 1938.

From the newspaper, Sunday morning, October 2, 1938:

Cleanup Crews Take Out Wrecked Trees in City Hall Park

Rehabilitation work went forward yesterday throughout Charleston, and workmen here are shown moving the last damaged elm tree from Washington Square. This park back of the city hall was wrecked by the tornadoes which struck scattered sections of the city Thursday. The statue of William Pitt, one arm shot off during the Revolutionary war, escaped unharmed. Trees which were not blown down were weakened and had to be removed. In the background is the three-story residence of Daniel Ravenel, Jr., recently renovated, which was damaged slightly. The house to the left, in the yard, lost its roof. (Staff photo by Peck.)


An unidentified photo.


This is Sugar’s father. He thinks this might have been taken at the Confederate Home.

And to close out this series, here’s a photo of Sugar’s father on the porch of the Confederate Home, before the storm. You can see the spire of St. Michael’s, the City Hall, and the obelisk in the background, very faintly. 

He never knew where this photo was taken, just somewhere in Charleston. When he put the photo in with all the other Charleston photos, suddenly he KNEW.


Richard Humphreys Bateson, circa 1938


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One Response to “The Gold Mine in the Closet: the Charleston Tornadoes of 1938”

  1. Charleston City Hall - Charleston South Carolina SC Says:

    […] of Ruth Rawls © Do Not Use Without Written […]

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