Charleston Museum, homes ready for tropical storms - WCIV-TV | ABC News 4 - Charleston News, Sports, Weather

Charleston Museum, homes ready for tropical storms

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) – Walking through the streets of downtown Charleston, history is everywhere. From the buildings to the pavement, to the treasures inside, there's plenty to take in. But is Charleston's history and match for Mother Nature?

The Charleston Museum is the oldest museum in America. It was founded in 1773.

"We've got the prosthetic hand of Col. Gailliard who fought with the Confederate forces on Morris Island," said Carl Borick, the assistant director at Charleston Museum.

There is hundreds of years of history filling the rooms of the museum, but could one storm wipe it all out?

"Any time we see there's a tropical storm threat, we regularly check the National Hurricane Center website to check where that cone is," said Borick.

The current museum was built in 1980 and is said to be hurricane-proof. While much of the city was destroyed in Hugo, the museum actually fared pretty well. Some of the windows broke, but the building stood up to Hugo's strong winds, Borick said.

Most of the museum's important artifacts are behind Plexiglas, which helps keep water out.

And the center of the museum is basically a vault. There are rows of steel cabinets. Dry, secure and safe, the room stores the history of the Lowcountry.

While the museum's artifacts are kept safe, can they say the same for the houses it owns, like the Joseph Manigault house across the street?

"Obviously, the first thing we're going to do is make sure the windows are closed and the shutters are closed," Borick said.

There are no Plexiglas enclosures or vaults, so if a serious storm approaches, teams of employees will spend a day bubble wrapping the silver, the artwork and the furniture. Some of it can fit in storage, but some is so large it has to stay put.

"They're brick structures, they're sturdily built, and they've certainly seen their share of disasters in Charleston history with war and earthquakes and numerous tropical storms and hurricanes," Borick said.

When the next hurricane arrives in the Lowcountry, the Charleston Museum says its houses and collections are staying put.

"It's a great place for families to visit and we plan to be here, storms or no storms," he said.

  • Erin Kienzle

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