Home About Us Catalog Borrowing Services Resources Programs & Events Locations





Meeting Street (100-173)

Photo by Ron Anton Rocz: 100 Meeting St. Fireproof Building c.1827

100 Meeting St. Fireproof Building c.1827
IMAGE: ON RIGHT -- Fireproof Building, designed by Robert Mills, was begun in 1822 and completed by 1827, as the Charleston District Record Building. lt was the most completely fire resistant structure built in the U.S. up to that date. The building is in the Palladian style, with Doric porticoes north and south. lnside, there is an oval stairhall, lit by a cupola, in which a cantilevered stone stair ascends three stories without visible support. The building is now the headquarters of the South Carolina Historical Society, founded in 1856. (Ravenel, Architects, p. 126; Severans, Southern Architecture, pp. 53-56, 137; Waddell, "Fireproof Building;" Rhett & Steele, pp. 32-33; Gallagher, Robert Mills, pp. 51-52, 160; Thomas, DYKYC, Dec. 23, 1968; Waddell & Liscombe, Robert Mills's Courthouses & Jails, p. 12; Mazyck & Waddell, illus. p. 4, p. 14.)

105 Meeting St. Hibernian Society Hall c.1840
IMAGE: ON RIGHT -- Hibernian Society Hall, completed in 1840, was designed by Thomas U. Walter (1804-87) of Philadelphia, architect. The lonic portico was rebuilt in more elaborate form after the 1886 earthquake knocked down the original portico. The main entrance leads to a large stairhall with an open rotunda, domed with coffered panels, supported by superimposed columns of the three Greek orders. Each floor has a large hall. The Hibernian Society was founded in 1801 as an lrish benevolent organization. The Society elects a new president each year, alternating between a Roman Catholic and a Protestant. A piece of stone from the Giant's Causeway stands on the portico; it was brought from county Antrim, lreland, in 1851. The panel above the door contains the lrish harp, as does the overthrow of the iron gates. The ironwork is thought to be by Christopher Werner of Charleston. The St. Cecilia Society balls and other brilliant social occasions are held here. Traditions include the annual celebration of St. Patrick's day, at which a nationally prominent speaker is always featured, and the serving of Hopping John on New Year's Day. (Rogers, Charleston in the Age of the Pinckneys; Deas, Early Ironwork, p. 31; Rhett & Steel, pp. 44-45; Whitelaw & Levkoff, pp. 66-67: Severens, Southern Architecture, p. 140; Ravenel, Architects, pp. 173-175.)

116 Meeting St. c.1887
Former Fire Station, built in 1887-88 now converted to city offices. The tower in the rear is an alarm bell tower, built at the same time as the station. (Stockton, unpub. notes)

115 Meeting St. Mills House Hotel
IMAGE
-- Mills House Hotel -- This reconstruction of the original Mills House stands on the site on which Otis Mills, a grain merchant and real estate developer, built his grand hotel in 1853. Designed by architect John E. Earle, the building had running water and steam heat, the first such installations on a large scale in the city. The five story, 125-room hotel cost $200,000 to build. The cast iron balcony on the facade came from Philadelphia, and terra cotta window cornices were ordered from Worcester, Mass. The entrance porch has rusticated columns supporting arches. Gen. Robert E. Lee was a guest at the hotel in 1861 and watched the great fire of that year from the balcony until the proximity of the fire forced him to leave the hotel. The staff of the hotel saved it by hanging wet blankets out the windows, so that the building was blackened but not destroyed. Gen. Pierre G.T. Beauregard, the confederate commander, used the hotel as his headquarters until Mills invited him to use his own residence in Meeting Street. A later guest was Theodore Roosevelt. For many years, the hotel was named the St. John's. ln 1968 the old hotel was torn down and the present building was erected, in the same ltalianate style as the original. ln the reconstruction, the old ironwork was retained and the terra cotta was copied in fiberglass. The building is two stories higher. (Thomas, DYKYC, April 19, 1969; N&C, Oct. 15, 1967; Ravenel, Architects, pp. 249-252; Whitelaw & Levkoff, pp. 45, 161; Rhett & Steele, p. 38; Mazyck & Waddell, illus. p. 3; Stoney, This is Chaleston, p. 76.)

134 Meeting St.
Site of the South Carolina lnstitute Hall where the Ordinance of Secession was signed on Dec. 20, 1860. The Venetian Renaissance Revival building was built in 1854 for the promotion of mechanical and agricultural arts in South Carolina. lt seated up to 2,500 persons. The facade had arched openings, Palladian windows, leopard-head keystones and lion-head brackets. lt was designed by Charleston architect Jones & Lee, (Edward C. Jones & Francis D. Lee). The hall was destroyed in the great fire of 1861. (Ravenel, Architects, p. 212; Thomas, DYKYC, Aug. 12, 1968; Whitelaw & Levkoff, pp. 10-11.)

135 Meeting St. Gibbes Museum of Art c.1904
Gibbes Art Gallery. This Beaux Art style building was erected in 1904 as the headquarters of the Carolina Art Association founded in 1857. The James S. Gibbes Memorial Art Gallery is named for James Shoolbred Gibbes (1819-1888), a wealthy merchant who bequeathed to the city an estate of nearly $120,000 to be used for the erection or purchase of a building for an art gallery and school and possibly a conservatory of music. Designed by architect Frank P. Milburn the building has a South Carolina granite base and exterior walls of pressed brick and lndiana limestone, and a red tile roof. The sculpture gallery, beneath the exterior dome, has an inner dome of art glass, 16 feet in diameter and 30 feet high. The main gallery is 43 by 68 feet and has a ceiling 23 feet high. The institution is noted for its collections of South Carolina portraits and miniatures. Artists represented in the permanent collection include Benjamin West, Charles Willson Peale, Rembrandt Peale, Gilbert Stuart, Samuel F.B. Morse, Thomas Sully, Charles Fraser and Edward Green Malbone. There are also valuable displays of Oriental jade and Japanese prints, as well as contemporary works. The original building has been expanded with a contemporary addition which wraps around the original rear wing; the addition was designed by Charleston architect Alexander Logan. Previously the site was occupied by a large wooden building, erected in 1881 by the South Carolina Agricultural Society as an exhibition hall. ln 1888, the hall became the Grand Opera House, later called O'Neill's Grand Opera House when Arthur O'Neill took over the direction. The building was destroyed by fire on New Year's Day, 1894. (Yearbook, 1904, pp. 81-85; Charleston Grows, p. 316; Stockton, DYKYC, June 1, 1981; Whitelaw & Levkoff, pp. 97, 173; Lesesne, N&C, May 5, 1935.)

138 Meeting St. Parish House c.1867
Lance Hall is the Circular Congregation Church Parish House. Built in 1867, it was used for church services until the present church was built. The hall is in the Roman Revival temple style, with a Roman Doric portico and two flights of stairs, over a high basement, a design influenced by the work of Robert Mills. (Stoney, This is Charleston, p. 76; Waddell & Liscombe, p. 14; Legerton, Historic Churches, pp. 78-79.)

141 Meeting St. c.1876
Architect Edward Brickell White designed this Palladian building, built in 1876-78 for the Charleston Gas Light Co., a forerunner of the South Carolina Electric and Gas Co., whose office it now houses. The Charleston Gas Light company was incorporated in 1846, and in 1848 the city streets began to be lighted by gas. The original plant of the company was on the west side of Church Street, between Cumberland and Market. The iron gates were brought from that location when this building was erected. (Pogue, pp. 7-9; Thomas, DYKYC, March 31, 1969; Charleston Grows, pp. 88, 91; Whitelaw & Levkoff, p. 97; Ravenel, Architects, p. 202; Stoney, This Is Charleston, p. 76.)

150 Meeting St. Circular Church c.1890
IMAGE: ON RIGHT -- Circular Congregational Church. The lndependent or Congregational Church was established here about 1681. lts members were French Huguenots, Scots and lrish Presbyterians and Congregationalists from New and old England. The first building, erected before 1695, was the White Meeting House, which gave Meeting Street its name. A new meeting house was built in 1732. lt was used as a hospital by the British during the Revolution. ln 1804-06, the first circular church, designed by architect Robert Mills, was built. lt was a Pantheon style building which is believed to have been the first domed church in America. The auditorium seated 2,000. Mills' design was altered by the German architect Charles Reichardt, who added a spire in 1838, and by Jones & Lee, who changed the portico (which projected over the sidewalk) from Tuscan to Corinthian and made other changes in 1852-53. The structure was burned in the great fire of 1861 and the ruins stood until shaken down by the 1886 earthquake. Using bricks from the old structure, the present building, designed by architects Stevenson & Green, was built in 1890-92. lt is in the Romanesque Revival style of Henry Hobson Richardson, the Louisiana born Boston architect. The present building is not really circular but tri-apsidal, very like the 11th century Church of the Apostles in Cologne. The grave yard is one of the oldest in the city; interees include Dr. David Ramsay (1749-1815), physician and historian. ln 1961, this church, along with others in the Congregational-Christian denomination, joined with the Evangelical-Reformed denomination to form the United Church of Christ. ln 1968 the Circular Church became a part of the United Presbyterian Church, U.S.A., as well. (Legerton, Historic Churches, pp. 78-79; Mazyck & Waddell, illus. p. 47; Rhett & Steele, pp. 46-47; Whitelaw & Levkoff, pp. 10-11, 16; Ravenel, Architects, pp. 80, 119, 178-179, 212-218; Rogers, Charleston in the Age of the Pinckneys, 92; Gallagher, pp. 80, 81; Hamln, pp. 31-32; McClure & Hodges, p. 96; Stoney, This is Charleston, p. 76.)

158 Meeting St.
Site of Carteret Bastion. See marker of building.

171-173 Meeting St. c.1874
IMAGE: ON RIGHT -- Adolph Tiefenthal, a native of the German Rhine country, built the old part of this building in 1874, as his restaurant/saloon and residence. lt occupies part of the site of the New Charleston Theatre, built in 1837 and destroyed in the great fire of 1861. (Stockton, unpub. MS; Ravenel, Architects, p. 178; Leland, Charleston, Crossroads of History, p. 38)