Society of Antiquaries
Lauren Northup lives a preservationist’s life in the Lowcountry, offering sharp-witted and scholarly insight into Charleston’s cultural and archaeological heritage.
A portrait of the artist eating a chocolate biscuit with her feet up on the desk (this photo taken by someone who swore they would not actually take a photo, just wanted to look through the camera, thus it is my pure essence).
I genuflect to this view of the Battery every day when I arrive at work. This view is my religion. It is changeable and lovely and still feels surreal and out of reach no matter how many times I take it in.
Unsure if it is a good thing to be a regular at this Waffle House-turned-Mexican restaurant.
This is my dear friend, Sarah. She is an archaeologist with the biggest and jolliest laugh. She used to work at Jamestown settlement in Virginia and was the archaeologist chosen to excavate the delicate skeletons of the children and babies who died during the starving time, the winter of 1609-1610.
This is Louisa and she must wear a tutu at all hours of day and night.
My husband, Scott, stacks chairs in order to mop the dining room floor. He has done this exactly once in eleven years of marriage and now it is immortalized.
John Robert emerges from the Edisto River, the longest black water river in the United States.
A boy paddle boards on the Edisto River while his mother scans constantly for alligators.
In July, the sun rises perfectly between this house and its 19th century garden wall.
A portrait of my seven-year-old son on his first day of third grade. He skipped a grade in October. On Friday, he was in second grade, and on Monday, he was in third. He grew a year overnight and damn near broke my heart in 24 hours.
Two children who are intentionally deprived the finer things in life make it work on a hot summer evening with some buckets and a hose.
Walking the perilous line between having fun and shouting in each other’s faces as the sun goes down and the cicadas scream.
Hallway, enslaved living quarters, Aiken-Rhett House, Charleston, South Carolina. The most sobering place to stand in the entire city.
Back lot, Aiken-Rhett House, Charleston. If you think this looks like a prison, you would be right.
Service stairs from the warming kitchen to the dining room, Aiken-Rhett House, Charleston. Original paint finishes survive intact, witness to the labor of many people some two hundred years ago.
In 1975, Minh escaped the fall of Saigon and sailed to America on an aircraft carrier with nothing but the clothes on his back. Now he owns a vast real estate empire and drives a Rolls Royce. He has a singular view on life. Here he polishes a silver epergne in the kitchen of the Nathaniel Russell House, Charleston.
This 1808 plaster wall was concealed behind 20 th century drywall. This is the south wall of the second floor enslaved living quarter in the Nathaniel Russell House kitchen house. Uncovered in 2018 for the first time in over 100 years, this wall was witness to the life and work of the eighteen enslaved people who lived behind the Russell House from 1808-1865.
I grew this rose from a cutting in my Virginia garden. My first beloved garden. When we movedto Charleston I was devastated to leave my roses, so the night we closed on our house my husband snuck into the yard and carefully dug up this rose (only about 18 inches tall) and drove it down to Charleston in a styrofoam cup. I planted it here in the Russell House garden where it thrives. Perhaps someday I will move it to my own garden, but it seems happy here.
Lauren Northup is Director of Museums for Historic Charleston Foundation (HCF). She has a B.A. in English and Art History from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and an M.Litt. in Art History from the University of St. Andrews, Scotland. Northup served as Manager of the Nathaniel Russell House Museum from 2012-2014, Collections Manager from 2014-2016, and accepted her current position of Director of Museums in 2016. Prior to her work at HCF, she served as Curator of Collections at the Hermitage Museum in Virginia, the Fife Folk Museum in Ceres, Scotland, and the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. She worked at Bonhams Auctioneers in Edinburgh, Scotland, while doing her graduate work in Art History at the University of St Andrews. She lives in an old house in Summerville, South Carolina with her husband and two small children.
Charleston Magazine documents a monumental discovery within the walls of the Nathanial Russell House, specifically in Lauren’s office.