Posted by: Nic Butler, Ph.D. | 20 November 2008

Fort Johnson’s 300th Anniversary

The name “Fort Johnson” is familiar to nearly every resident of the Charleston area, especially those on James Island who live on or near the scenic Fort Johnson Road. Hundreds of people work and study every day at the NOAA’s Hollings Marine Laboratory and Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research, the College of Charleston’s Grice Marine Laboratory, MUSC’s Marine Biomedecine and Environmental Sciences Center, and SCDNR’s Marine Resources Research Institute, all of which are located on the grounds of Fort Johnson. But how many people know anything about the history of the old fort itself, which was dismantled more than a century ago? Sadly, few remember that construction on Fort Johnson started at Windmill Point on James Island three hundred years ago—in the year 1708.

Fort Johnson was designed and built in 1708 by Huguenot refugees to protect the English colony of South Carolina from attack by Spanish and French forces. It suffered damage from numerous storms and was entirely rebuilt in 1759. In September 1775 the fort was captured by South Carolina patriots at the beginning American Revolution. In the 1790s Fort Johnson was again rebuilt and again destroyed by storms during the War of 1812. The site was fortified during the Civil War and occupied by Confederate forces until 1865. After the war, the remnants of the fort were allowed to decay as the site became used for other purposes, including a quarantine station for immigrants.

To mark the 300th anniversary of the construction of Fort Johnson, the Charleston Archive and the Mayor’s Walled City Task Force will be presenting a free program at the main branch of the Charleston County Public Library to raise public awareness of this site’s rich history. On Thursday, December 11th 2008, Dr. Nic Butler, manager of the Charleston Archive and historian for the Task Force, will provide an illustrated overview of the fort’s history, and archaeologist Carl Steen, of the Diachronic Research Foundation, will discuss his recent investigations at this important site. Please join us!

fort_johnson_flyerThursday, 11 December 2008
6:30 p.m.
Charleston County Public Library Auditorium
68 Calhoun Street

For further information, please contact Dr. Butler at (843) 805-6968 or



  1. Your blog is terrific!

    Here is the url of the blog from the Archives of the Sandusky Library if you would like to take
    a look:

  2. Dear Dr. Butler,
    Your presentation should be very interesting, and thanks for your preparation of the information to the public. Plese also note that there is an additional NOAA Research Center at Ft. Johnson. NOAA’s Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research has been a part of Fort Johnson since 1978, with well over 100 scientists and support staff actively partnering with our state and academic colleagues. The Hollings Marine Lab was established in the past 6 years to further those collaborations, and together, our two NOAA labs, are a vibrant asset to the Fort Johnson coastal environmental research community. Again, thanks for your interest in presenting this important 300 year perspective.
    Paul Comar, Chief
    Research Coordination and Administrative Support Branch
    219 Fort Johnson Road
    Charleston, SC 29412

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