Virtual Preservation Hard Hat Tour: Hebrew Orphan Society

Preservation-Society , May 6, 2020

While you’re stuck at home, we would like to share with you some of our favorite places in Charleston. Join the Preservation Society every week, as we share a virtual hard hat tour through some of Charleston’s most fascinating buildings.

The three-story Neoclassical building at 88 Broad Street is believed to have been constructed as a residence between 1794 and 1804 under the ownership of Henry Laurens, Jr. When Laurens sold the building in 1804, it was “occupied by the directors of the Bank of the United States.” After 1804 the property changed hands several times before being purchased by the Hebrew Orphan Society in 1833.

Founded in 1801, the Hebrew Orphan Society provided relief to widows, and educated, clothed and maintained orphansof the Jewish faith. The building at 88 Broad was initially used for meeting space, offices and a school:

“During their occupancy the hall used for their meetings was on the second floor, the rooms on the lower floor apparently having been rented out for offices… For about five years, just at the time of the Confederate War, Hebrew orphans were housed there. The caretakers of the hall were given quarters there, and for at least 25 years, two of them conducted a kindergarten in this building.” –CharlestonNews and Courier, October 17, 1949, p. 12

After 98 years of ownershipunder the Hebrew Orphan Society, 88 Broad Street was sold to J.C Long in 1931.1934 HABS Survey documentation describes law offices on the first and second floor, a “rathskeller” or tavern in the basement, and bachelor quarters on the third floor. Between 1934 and 1975,interior alterations were undertaken in nearly every room. Notable changes included removal of the original interior stair, construction of a three-story stair tower in its place, and the excavation of the basement.

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