“These structures may retain some brick walls dating from the 1770s tenements owned by the
Manigault family. The present Greek Revival character of 205 East Bay and particularly the range to the north probably date after 1831, when Dr. Philip Moser acquired the corner. One of the many owners, Charles H. Bass, sold 205 East Bay to William Bird in 1870. The William Bird Company, a hardware and paint firm, occupied the corner building and eventually spread its operations to the adjacent range owned by James Marsh.
The cast-iron colonnade on the first floor and the Italianate window heads above date from the postbellum period. The pilastered granite storefront unites the three buildings to the north.”
Information from: The Buildings of Charleston – J.H. Poston for the Historic Charleston Foundation, 1997
At the close of the War Between the States there were in Charleston a number of artisans in brass, copper and iron. Among the former was Joseph Boesch whose workshop and warehouse was in State Street just around the comer from William Bird & Co., 205 East Bay Street. It is said that the large metal whale now used by the letter company as a sign was purchased before 1866 from Mr. Boesch who probably unearthed it from a lot of junk in his warehouse. William Bird hung out the sign to let the public know that he sold whale oil, for in those days mineral oils were unknown for illuminating purposes. At the present time, the sign indicates that the company sells paint. In addition to the whale, there was, about the time of the 1886 earthquake, a large copper or bronze eagle, about two and one half feet high, on the top of the building. The bird was supposed to represent the largest of its species and the whale, the biggest fish of its kind, thereby indicating that William Bird & Co., was the largest store of its kind. During the earthquake when the building was partially destroyed, the whale was badly damaged and the company had Mr. Boesch restore it, but the eagle was injured beyond repair so was not replaced. (News & Courier, January 26, 1937.) (Information from: Names in South Carolina by C.H. Neuffer, Published by the S.C. Dept. of English, USC)
Other sources of interest: Charleston Tax Payers of Charleston, SC in 1860-61 and the Dwelling Houses of Charleston by Alice R.H. Smith – 1917 The HCF may also have additional data at: Past Perfect and further research can be uncovered at: Charleston 1861 Census Schedule or The Charleston City Guide of 1872
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