Welcome to my 2nd blog of Charleston History. I have added a new page, “Restaurant Rec’s.”These are some of my favorite restaurants in Charleston. In no way is this list complete. I still have many more to sample so keep checking back for the latest.
Not only do the restaurants in Charleston have fantastic cuisine but they also have some unique and historic details about them.
McCrady’s:The original structure was built in 1778 and was on East Bay Street. Here the Liberty Tree Boys would meet to discuss Great Britain’s policies and how it was affecting the colony. Edward McCrady was a Revolutionary Leader and was imprisoned in St. Augustine, Florida after the Siege of Charleston by the British. When he was released, he came home and increased the size of his tavern by building 2 Unity Alley. His “Long Room” was the entertainment spot of Charleston. The Charleston Theatre would perform here and when George Washington was visiting during his Southern Tour in 1791, a dinner party was thrown in his honor in this room. Today when you dine at McCrady’s you are sitting in the old kitchen. The early brick fireplace is still visible. The bar area was once horse and buggy stalls. If they are not having a reception upstairs, ask to go see the original Long Room. History is alive in this room. If only these walls could talk.
82 Queen:One of my favorite spots for “She Crab Soup”. Originally “She Crab Soup” was based on a Scottish seafood bisque brought here in the early 18th century. Of course in the early 1900’s that was not good enough for a famous guest of our Charleston Mayor Rhett. President Taft was a frequent guest at the Mayor’s home and the Mayor was concerned that the crab soup was too pale for the President. William Deas, who was his butler, was given the task of livening up the soup. His creation is what we eat today: meat of the small female blue crab was added to bisque and then it was decorated with their orange hued eggs to add color and flavor. Tradition has it that President Taft loved the soup so much that he added it to the White House menu. Not only was the President eating it but lots of congressmen were too. Mendel Rivers a congressman in the 1940’s would arrange for thermoses of Deas’ “She Crab Soup” to be flown to DC and serviced at his committee meetings.
Amen Street:Today the restaurant is located on the corner of East Bay and Cumberland St. Before the street was called Cumberland, it was known as Amen St. It was said that the street got its name because you could hear the “Amens” being chanted by the church members of St. Philips and the Methodist Meeting House. In the 1870’s this building was the store of the William Bird Company; hardware and paint. They were known for their sign: a large golden whale.
Poe’s:Poe’s Tavern, which is located on Sullivan’s Island, derives its name from Edgar Allen Poe who was stationed at Fort Moultrie for 13 months beginning in November of 1827. Poe enlisted in the army under the name of Edgar Allan Perry to avoid a large debt that he had accrued. His time at Fort Moultrie inspired him to write the Golden Bug.
Circa 1886: Is located in the original carriage house for the Wentworth Mansion. This magnetic home was built by Francis Silas Rodgers who was a cotton merchant. His home was very self sufficient for that time period. It had its own water supply which included a windmill and a small gas plant that provided the house with an independent light system. 21 panes of Tiffany stain glass were installed on the main floor of the home. The stain glass buckled but did not break during the Great Earthquake of 1886. One of the other captivating features of the home is its cupola. Rodgers would spend hours gazing over the city looking for signs of smoke which might suggest a fire. He is credited with organizing the city’s first paid professional fire department. In my opinion, this is the one of the best skyline views in Charleston especially during a full moon.
If you like the restaurant history, keep checking back. I have more to share at a later date.
Also don’t forget to take a look at my new page “Restaurant Rec’s”for more great places to eat.
See you next month