Wednesday, February 25, 2009
It is hard to imagine a place like CSA Galleries could exist in any other place than Charleston.
The name in itself tells you exactly where it stands as far as the Civil War goes but unlike many places in Charleston that caters to the Heritage not Hate crowd, you don’t find this store as a stall in the flea market or a dive somewhere in a rundown strip mall.
Instead you have a rather high class store dedicated to the world of the Confederacy. I have visited the store in 4 of its 5 different locations and while disagreeing with their mission, always found that the store was unlike any other I had ever been in. At its core, it has always had amazing artwork, artistic framing that would combine replicas and artifacts with the artwork being framed, replicas of all sorts, artifacts and eclectic gifts.
At one point the store had a coffee and ice cream shop attached to it – never got how that happened but I’m not a businessman myself. Since you never knew what they were going to have, it was always neat to go in.
When I first started researching the 18th Massachusetts, the store was one of my first stops. At the time it had a large selection of books – most pointed towards the South but I had hope. As the years went by, just like in the national chains, the books started to take up less space. Even so it was still nice to go visit at least once a year.
While I believe that most that support the Lost Cause are not in it for hateful reasons, there is still a big group that is. The store became a magnet for supplies of the Lost Cause and if there was any reason that I would look harshly at it – that would be it. The owners though never showed that hateful feelings though. As a matter of fact, one left his practice as an attorney to put his time and energy into the store (as well as being a powerful State Senator). They were also driving forces into finding and fixing the CSS Hunley.
If you take a look at this story by Charleston’s Post and Courier, you can see a little bit more into it and how the economy has forced the owner’s hands into closing. I also found the conflicting comments rather interesting in it’s own right and would suggest that you take the time to read those too.
Today though, I do hope to go to the 5th location and take a look at the Union art piece that is mentioned in the article. If the price is right, I just might be the one to finally buy it.