Charleston’s Four Corners of Law

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Photo by @CharlestoNspired

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Get hitched, ditched, taxed, and imprisoned all in one intersection.

The intersection of Meeting and Broad St. was coined the “Four Corners of Law” by Robert Ripleyof Ripley’s Believe It or Not! – in the 1930s. The four corner buildings represent God’s law (St. Michael’s Episcopal Church), state law (Charleston County Courthouse), city law (Charleston City Hall), and federal law (Federal Courthouse).

While the geography of the buildings seems convenient, the square actually evolved over the course of two centuries.

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St. Michael’s Episcopal Church | Photo by CHStoday team

📍71 Broad St.
God’s law is represented in the southeast corner, at the famous St. Michael’s Episcopal Church. Constructed in 1751 on the grounds of the first Anglican church South of Virginia, St. Michael’s is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and boasts a 186 ft. tall steeple that has become a staple to our community.

Today, the church still holds services every Sunday at 8 a.m., 10:30 a.m., and 6 p.m. We recommend worshiping in pew 43 – the same pew that George Washington and Robert E. Lee once worshipped in.

Services: Weekly mass, events, student ministry for teens, weddings, and more.

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Charleston City Hall | Photo by @kswede08

📍80 Broad St.
Charleston’s City Hall, which represents city law, rests upon the northeast corner of the intersection. The property was used as a town marketplace in 1680 and then a beef market before the current building was constructed. The building you see today was originally one of the eight branches of the United States Bank, it was converted into our City Hall in 1818.

The structure was built in the ‘Adamesque’ style, one that was developed by Charlestonian Gabriel Manigault after he spent some time studying in Europe. Today, it is the second oldest still-in-use city hall building in the nation. Its history shows through the gallery on the second floor, which features commissioned works of famous visitors – including George Washington + James Monroe.

Services: Fine collection, distributing business licenses, building inspection requests, and more.

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Charleston County Courthouse | Photo via Wiki Commons

📍100 Broad St.
On the northwest corner is state law – the Charleston County Courthouse, first constructed in 1753 and used as the South Carolina State House. Overlooking Meeting Street, the first reading of the Declaration of Independence in South Carolina was conducted from the balcony of the second floor. The building burned down during the Constitutional Ratification Convention of 1788. During that time, the State House was relocated to Columbia.

Amateur architect Judge William Drayton reconstructed the building in 1792 to be used for the Charleston district courts. Today, the building houses the Charleston County Probate Court.

Services: Settling disputes in estates and trusts, obtaining marriage licenses, appointing + supervising guardians and conservators, and more.

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United States Post Office and Federal Courthouse | Photo by @elsvisualdiary

📍83 Broad St.
The United States Post Office and Federal Courthouse rests on the southeast corner, representing federal law. When first constructed, the location housed a police guardhouse and was the site of the gallows for public executions during the British rule. It was destroyed during the Earthquake of 1886. In 1887, Congress funded the construction of a new building designed by S.C. architect John Henry Devereux, an Irish immigrant. Construction finished in 1896 and cost nearly a million dollars.

Today, it is listed in the National Register of Historic Places still functions as a post office and courthouse.

Services: United States Post Office and federal court.

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