East Battery was not a part of the city's original 1672 Grand Modell of Charles Towne. Everything south of the model's Lot #1 (now 43 East Bay Street) was too swampy upon which to build. Thus the colony's eastern border stopped at Granville Bastion, now site of the Capt. James Missroon House at 40 East Bay Street.
The forerunner of today’s High Battery was built in 1755 as an earthwork extending from Granville Bastion (Missroon House) to Broughton's Battery, on the site of present-day White Point Garden. It was principally built of mud and sand held together by fascines (long bundles of sticks), and planted with grass. Wooden platforms on top allowed for cannon to be placed there to guard the harbor. The earthwork was augmented by the Middle Bastion, built just south of present-day Atlantic Street. In 1757, the Middle Bastion was renamed for Gov. William Lyttelton.
The military engineer in charge of building the fortification line was William Gerard de Brahm, who had served as an engineer for Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor. He came to America in 1751 and worked building fortifications in the southern colonies, as well as mapping the Atlantic coastline. The fortifications were completed in 10 months with the labor of 300 men, including Acadian exiles, German immigrants, and enslaved Blacks.
After 1757, a pedestrian pathway was added and High Battery has remained a popular promenade since the early part of the 19th century. However, because of the marshy nature of the land, it was not possible to build houses along East Battery until the construction of the Edmondston-Alston House in 1828. The antebellum residences there today were built between then and the 1850s.
By 1767, the wall had been breeched in parts by the constant sea waves. Bermuda stone was purchased to repair the breeches, though the General Assembly had to pass a law the next year to prevent the owners of schooners from stealing the stones to use as ballast.
The fortifications were upgraded again during the American Revolution when Lyttelton's Bastion was renamed Fort Darrell. In 1787, the Assembly passed an act for "making and completing East Bay continued." The act authorized the continuation of East Bay as a 30-foot wide thoroughfare from Granville's Bastion to the southern tip of the peninsula. This Vanderhorst Creek (now Water Street) to be filled, as well as other especially low spots along the waterfront. Several amending acts were passed through 1797, including one in 1795 that disposed of lands on the site of Lyttelton's Bastion, which had been renamed again as Fort Mechanick in 1793-95.
Hurricanes in 1800 and 1804 virtually destroyed the battery's seawall, which was rebuilt with rock and ship ballast. The thoroughfare was named for the cannon deployed along the line during the War of 1812; the first mention of the new street by name was in 1827.
High Battery’s seawall was developed to its present height and solidity after the hurricane of 1854, which breached it in several places. The granite seawall was again raised, repaired and strengthened after the hurricanes of 1885 and 1893.
13 East Battery, The William Ravenel House