History of Broad Street in Charleston

Broad and Meeting streets

Broad and Meeting streets | Photo by @kimgrahamphoto

Broad Street in downtown Charleston is a business, legal, and residential hub + one of the most scenic roads in the city. Take a walk with us down the road’s long, winding history dating back to circa 1680, when the layout of the town was created in the Grand Modell of Charleston. We’ll point out key facts and historic sites along the way.

Original Name

Broad Street was originally named Cooper Street after Anthony Ashley-Cooper, a Lord Proprietor, but was renamed when locals began talking about the town’s new “broad” street. The street names were referred to interchangeably from 1698-1714 — but Broad eventually stuck.

Four Corners of Law

The intersection of Broad + Meeting is known as the Four Corners of Law: ecclesiastical (St. Michael’s Church), federal (the U.S. Post Office and Federal Courthouse), the state (State Courthouse), and city (City Hall). As reader Alan R. put it, you can be put in jail, arrange your bail, send your mail, and say a Hail Mary.

St. Michael’s Episcopal Church

If you’ve walked down Broad, you’ve seen this beautiful church. St. Michael’s was built in 1751 + known for its 186-ft. white steeple and ringing bells. The bells were imported in 1764 from England and have traveled across the Atlantic 7 times due to wars, an auction, a fire, and a hurricane — pretty crazy, right?

One Broad Street

One Broad Street | Photo by @buildingsarecool

John Rutledge House Inn

Many drafts of the US Constitution were written in the drawing room of John Rutledge House Inn — which is now a hotel located at 116 Broad St. John Rutledge was a Founding Father and one of the signers of the Constitution. He descended from the founders of Boone Hall Plantation and served as the only President of SC.

The John Lining House

Known as the oldest frame residence in Charleston, the John Lining House dates back to the early 1700s with the earliest record of the colonial home being in 1715. Dr. John Lining came to the city in 1730 and provided health care to residents. He also studied + corresponded with Ben Franklin on his electricity experiments. The building is now home to a law firm.


Broad Street is part of Charleston’s Old and Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1966. The district is the site of coveted local real estate. The luxurious homes on and below the street have inspired inside jokes today — live south of Broad and you’re an S.O.B., live slightly north of Broad and you’re a S.N.O.B.