Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum

A magnificent Greek Revival building at 68 Spring Street in Charleston, SC, which was formerly a Methodist Church has become The Karpeles Library Manuscript Museum. The building is said to have been built in 1791, but it has gone through many different appellations from that time forward. It was used as a hospital for the Confederate forces during the Civil War and was a target of the Union Army because it was the key to the city's water supply.

The library and manuscript museum was founded by David Karpeles as a nonprofit educational project in 1983. Mr. Karpeles took the position that today's children lack the drive and ambition, the hope and faith which had characterized most previous generations in the United States. He finds today's youth in a state of emptiness and ignorant of our political and cultural history. He appears to believe that children have too many material assets and too little content of character. He seems not so much intent upon driving out evil forces, but on giving young people a sense of where they have come from so that they might in time figure out where they might go.

Mr. Karpeles laments the broad range of ignorance in the young. He is neither alone nor wrong in this observation. Beyond the inability of many high school students to read, write or speak the language properly, they have no sense of history. Perhaps it's the domination of television in their lives or substandard schools or indifferent parents which are to blame, but Mr. Karpeles seems more geared to enrichment than analysis.

While priceless documents from literature, religion, art and government are the main staple of their mission, they seek to expose the communities in which they reside to music, art works and creative example. Their programs rotate during the year to offer a variety of exposure to worthwhile interests. There are Karpeles Manuscript Museums in 8 other cities in the U.S.

Because both Coming and Spring Streets, the intersection of which is the location of Charleston's Karpeles Museum, are busy thoroughfares, most who pass this way get no sense of what is in 68 Spring Street. It is a treat for seasoned adults as well as under enriched children. It is worth a visit. Locally they can be reached at (843) 853-4651. Their hours of Operation are Tuesday--Saturday 11:00 am - 4:00 PM. Karpeles is currently featuring an exhibit of maps of the United States. Now, that's something with we can easily identify.


Anonymous Agricola said...

Great story. Have long wondered what Karpeles was all about, and now will sally forth for a closer inspection of the maps. Merry Christmas, and best wishes, Windviel, for a happy and prosperous New Year.....

9:20 AM  
Blogger Windviel said...

Karpeles is one of those semi-hidden jems of the lowcountry. It is well worth exploring. We, too, have often wondered about this and other unknown spots, but finally set out to learn about them.

We hope that the extended Agricoli family had a Merry Christmas and will have a great New Year. We will miss those old faces which we only get to see at Uncle Pete's New Year's Day cookout.

12:28 PM  

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