A Timeline on the Tavern Located At The Northeast Corner of Church and Broad Street

By: Ill. Brother McDonald “Don” Burbidge, 33°

Shepheard's Tavern in Charleston, South Carolina, was the birthplace of Scottish Rite Freemasonry. Of all the public houses in early Charleston, Shepheard’s Tavern has the richest and most significant history to Scottish Rite Masons around the world.   

The building site Charles Shepheard chose for his business was a lot at the corner of Broad and Church Streets located near the center of Charles-Town, as it was then called. It was a four-story oblong building (pictured above), and its purpose, while commercial, was also to serve the community in a variety of ways.  

Listed in the “South Carolina Gazette” newspaper advertisements for Charleston the following announcements were found concerning the history of  “Shepheard’s Tavern.” 

1734  An announcement in the Gazette paper states that Mr. Charles Shepheard is the owner of the tavern located at the corner of Broad and Church Street. 

In the “Gazette” paper. An announcement for tickets would go on sale for a play “ The Orphan or the Unhappy Marriage” which was to be held at Shepheard’s Tavern at the intersection of Broad and Church Street on October 17th. This was the first season that plays of any type where presented in Charleston at this time. 

1736  In the “South Carolina Gazette”, a weekly journal printed at that time in “Charles-Town” and then the only newspaper, which was published there, will be found under it’s issue of Friday, October 28, the following paragraph;

   “Last night a lodge of Ancient and Honorable Society of Free and Accepted Masons, was held, for the first time, at Mr. Charles Shepheard’s, in Board Street, when John Hammerton, Esq. Secretary and Receiver General for this province, was unanimously chosen Master, who was pleased to appoint Mr. Thomas Denne, Senior Warden, Mr. Tho. Harbin, Junior Warden, and Mr. James Gorden, Secretary”. 

1743  Advertisement found in the "South Carolina Gazette" dated: May 16th, The Hon. William Ball, Esq.; announces Charles Shepheard as Post Master for the province of South Carolina.

1747/1748  Mr. Charles Shepheard dies and the tavern passes ownership to Mr. John Gordon. 

1754  The Grand Lodge of Freemasons was formed in this tavern. 

1762  Mr. John Gordon dies and Mr. John Dillion is now listed as the new proprietor of the tavern.

1771  Mr. John Dillion retires and the tavern is passed onto Mr. William Holliday. This is the second tavern owned on East Bay Street by Mr. John Holliday.

1773  Mr. John Holliday departs the city. The new proprietor is listed as Mrs. Francis Swallow who is a widow at the time.

1774  Mrs. Swallow marries Mr. Charles Ramadge and the tavern is renamed to Ramadge’s Tavern.

1775  The information concerning the tavern is less published in the local papers until after the Revolutionary war. After the Revolutionary war the establishment is listed as the “City Tavern” and is known by this name for several years. Listed in the memoirs of General William Moultrie and Dr. David Ramsey the “City Tavern” is fondly written of by both gentlemen.

1784  Mr. Thompson leaves town late in this year. The new proprietor is listed as Mr. James Milligan who sells the tavern, which is now used as retail and wholesales store.

1796  The retail store is damaged in the fire of 1796.

1801  On May 31, Colonel John Mitchell and Fredrick Dalcho opened a Supreme Council of the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite; Dalcho had received the necessary qualification from Colonel John Mitchell six days before the opening of the Supreme Council. John Mitchell, a native of Ireland and an officer of the American Army in the Revolutionary War while Dr. Frederick Dalcho was a native of England, who was afterwards Grand Commander of the Council, and Assistant Rector of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Charleston.

1924  The Klinck, Wickenberg and Company building (formerly Shepheard’s Tavern) was torn down and in its place was erected the new Citizens and Southern National Bank.  

Through out the years “Shepheard’s Tavern” is listed as the following;

 1) Shepheard’s was the site of plays during Charles Town's first theatrical season.   Performances were held in the "Court Room," so called because the province rented the large room for that purpose. 

 2)  "Sons of Liberty" held their meeting at Shepheard’s. 

 3) According to Charles Fraser's "Reminiscences of Charleston," Shepheard’s was known popularly as the "Corner Tavern." 

 4) Charleston's First Troop of Horse was organized and the Court of Session's was held there.

 5) The Charleston man came there to read, do business, hold public meeting, and write and send letters at Shepheard’s Tavern. 

 6) Advertisement found in the "South Carolina Gazette" dated: November 19, 1744     

The Subscriber has open'd his

House in Broad Street, where may be depended on, as

Good Entertainment as this Province affords, and the

Customers as obliging usage,

Thou most abediess humble Servant,

   Charles Shepheard

  7) Advertisement found in the "South Carolina Gazette" dated: May 16th, 1743

      The Hon. William Ball, Esq.; announces Charles Shepheard as Post Master for the province of South Carolina.

If you happen to find yourself in Charleston for the celebration take the time for the “Masonic Walking” tour and get a feel for the city that the “Eleven Gentlemen of Charleston” lived in. As you walk along the streets you will get a feeling of what it might have been like when they lived in this city.  The asphalt streets were made of dirt when they lived here.

When you are at the site of Shepheard’s Tavern stand at the corner of Church and Broad Street as they did and look around. Try to imagine what it might have looked like to live as they did.

“Special thanks goes out to Nic Butler for his help on this and other projects we both have worked on together.”

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