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Adger's Wharf

Photo: 4 Adgers Wharf

Adger's Wharf is one of the several streets in the made land to the east of East Bay Street, which still carry the names of wharfs. Adger's Wharf began its history as a "low water lot" (land exposed at low tide) belonging to Robert Tradd and situated across Bay Street (now East Bay) from his residence at Tradd and the Bay. Robert Tradd, a son of Richard Tradd and, according to tradition, the first English child born in South Carolina, died in 1731, bequeathing the "Water Lott" to Jacob Motte and his children. Motte was for many years the Public Treasurer of South Carolina and was also a prominent merchant, a sometime partner of James Laurens (brother of Henry Laurens) . He built on Tradd's low Water lot a large wharf known as "Motte's Wharf" or "Motte's Bridge." Buildings on Motte's Wharf included a "scale house," where items were weighed, and which apparently was large enough for Motte to locate his office and store there after the great fire of 1740.
North of Motte's Wharf, which later became known as Adger's South Wharf, was Greenwood's Wharf, which later became known as Adger's North Wharf. Greenwood, a British merchant in Charles Town, was one of the consignees of tea, taxed under the Tea Act of 1773. Under pressure, he and the other consignees allowed local authorities to store the hated tea in the basement of the Exchange.
To the south of Motte's Wharf, at the foot of Tradd Street, was a site set aside for public use. The 1739 map called the "Ichnography of Charles-Town at High Water," shows the Exchange, with a courtroom above it, on the site. Later, a market was built on the site, which Charles Fraser remembered as a "low wooden building." Subsequently, the market was removed and the site became part of the right of way of South Adger's Wharf.
By the end of the 18th century, both Motte's and Greenwood's Wharfs had been acquired by William Crafts, and were known as Crafts' North and South Wharfs. The wharfs were acquired in 1822 by Arthur Middleton, as administrator of the estate of Nathaniel Russell; later Middleton acquired them for himself. In 1835 he sold part to James Hamilton, and for a time the wharfs were known as Hamilton & Co., and Middleton & Hamilton's Wharfs. Middleton was one of the Middletons of Middleton Place. Hamilton was lntendant of Charleston, Governor of South Carolina, a general and a leader of the Nullifiers.
In the 1830s and '40s the wharfs were acquired by James Adger & Co. , and became the southern terminus of the first steamship line between Charleston and New York. The lucrative line helped James Adger to become, allegedly, the richest man in South Carolina. One of Adger & Co.'s best ships, the James, happened to be in New York harbor when the Civil War broke out. The ship was confiscated by Union authorities and used throughout the war by the United States Navy.
Over the years, substantial brick buildings were constructed lining the streets known as Adger's North and South Wharfs . The Sanborn insurance map of 1884 indicates that Adger & Co.'s office was at 90 East Bay, while the buildings on the south side of North Adger's Wharf and north side of South Adger's Wharf were cotton warehouses. The brick range on the north side of North Adger's Wharf also housed warerooms for cotton on the first level, with brokers' offices above.
After port activities moved up the peninsula, the wharfs were abandoned and the buildings converted to residential and office use.
South Adger 's Wharf is one of Charleston's few remaining cobblestone streets (others being Chalmers and Gillon streets and Maiden Lane) . The granite base of Adger's South Wharf, where the Adger ships formerly docked, still projects into the Cooper River and has been made into a public park.
(Stockton, DYKYC , 0ct. 8, 1973. -- "Rainbow Row."; Greene, unpub, MS.; Rogers, Charleston in the Age of the Pinckneys , 14, 43, 56. Fraser, 32-33. Stoney, N&C , April 13, 1958. "Ichnography," 1739. ''Ichnography, " 1788 . Bridgens & Allen Map, 1852 . Sanborn Map, 1884.)