During World War II, many a young person found love in an unlikely place: the Joseph Manigault House.
A boy and girl stand at Manigault’s gate; The time is now...the hour is late.” So begins a 1944 poem by George Feder, telling of romance in World War II-era Charleston. Legend has it that during the war, many a young person found their soul mate in an unlikely place: the Joseph Manigault House. During its stint as a United Service Oranizations (USO) dormitory from 1942 to 1946, the antebellum estate, once home to the rice planting Manigault family, shifted gears to house military personnel, volunteers, and the legion of industry workers who flooded the Holy City to aid in wartime efforts. Providing familiar comforts and entertainment to keep spirits high on the homefront, the house was a home away from home for some 345,000 visitors during its four-year run. The USO building also took on the role of meeting place for young men and women as it hosted festivities for its residents and the surrounding community—activities such as archery and athletics took place daily, as well as countless formal teas and dances, such as this Valentine’s Day affair in 1942, during which many fabled love stories might have begun. “And o’er all looms the House...What stories she could tell.”
Photograph courtesy of Patricia DeTreville