THREE DOWNTOWN HISTORIES YOU’VE NEVER HEARD BEFORE
QUEEN’S INFAMOUS BLIND TIGER
Built in 1866 as a tenement building, the Wagner-Trott Building at 30 State Street became home to many working class families, including young Irish immigrant and grocer Jeremiah O’Brien. In the late 1890s, O’Brien operated a saloon on the first floor that newspapers of the time referred to as one of city’s most notorious “blind tigers” and was constantly raided by police for whiskey and beer.
Between 1922 and 1928, the first-floor again served as a speakeasy known as the “Queen Lunch Room,” operated by Greek merchant Arthur A. Pappas. In one incidence, Pappas assaulted an officer by “pulling his coat-tails” to distract the police while his assistant emptied kegs and bottles out of the first-floor’s back door.
During a 2017 restoration, buck shot holes were found in the structure’s brick walls and could be evidence of this past police activity.
A MAN & HIS RECLINER
The Philip Moore House was erected in 1800 and by 1914, it was home to New York mechanic Julius Herman Rast. Rast formerly served as the superintendent of the Knickerbocker Cycle Co. and the Stanley Cycle Co. in NYC and invented the “bicycle seat post clamp,” still used today to adjust and secure the height of a bicycle seat.
While living here, he also patented the “Rast Incline Attachment,” in a shop behind the house that is no longer standing. This invention allowed a car’s front seats to slide and recline. This technology, also still used today, was ultimately applied to the modern recliner chair.
Rast is also credited with ushering in the city’s first gasoline-powered vehicles, one of which was most likely often parked in the side driveway of 65 Meeting Street in the 1910s.
The Tobias Scott House located at 17 Water Street was constructed in 1866 amidst the ruins of a war-stricken Charleston and occupied by newly-freed Black craftsman Tobias Scott and his family from 1867 to 1896. During this time, Scott produced luxury fans, made from turkey feathers, for the Charleston elite. Two of his fans are currently in the collection of the Charleston Museum. According to the collection, President Theodore Roosevelt purchased one of Scott’s feathered fans during his visit to Charleston at the turn of the twentieth century.
Through his success in making fans right here on Water Street, Scott was able to send his children to college and they became part of the first generation of Black Charlestonians to receive higher education following the Civil War.
Interestingly, recent construction work at 17 Water Street unearthed large turkey bones buried in the backyard.