119 Broad Street


This week we visit 119 Broad Street, across the street from last week's post on 114 Broad Street. The property was purchased by Morton Waring in 1803 and his house was completed by 1807. Waring had accumulated his wealth as a factor, or a middleman between seller and purchaser of crops and other goods.

However, fortunes change, and Waring found himself in adverse circumstances. He subdivided the property and sold the lot with the house at 119 Broad Street in 1811 to Mordecai Cohen. Cohen added to the property in 1818 when he purchased the lot to the west of the house. Mordecai Cohen was born in Poland in 1763 and later emigrated to the United States. He soon made his fortune in real estate and banking, and he was known to be one of the wealthiest men in Charleston in the 1830s.

Directly across the street from Cohen's mansion was St. Andrews Society Hall at 118 Broad Street, built around 1815 (this Hall burned to the ground during the last great fire of 1861, and the site is now commemorated with a plaque). St. Andrews Society Hall hosted the Marquis de Lafayette during his stay in Charleston in 1825.

Lafayette took over a year to tour each of the 24 states of the United States in 1824-1825. He arrived in Charleston on March 15, 1825 and stayed three days here, visiting and being entertained by the Charleston elite. In the digitized collection of Lafayette College in Pennsylvania is an invitation to a banquet in Lafayette's honor to be held at City Hall, March 1825 at 4:00 pm. This dinner must have been quite an elegant affair; we know that Charleston borrowed the gold dinner service belonging to Mordecai Cohen to use at that dinner.

Unfortunately, Cohen later experienced his own financial adversity and sold 119 Broad Street in 1844. The property passed through several owners and in 1957, the Roman Catholic Diocese bought 119 Broad Street for $60,000 to use for office space.

In August 2018, the Catholic Diocese sold 119 Broad for $6,250,000. The house is over 8,000 square feet with a carriage house of over 2,000 square feet. Finally, it appears that 119 Broad will be converted into a magnificent residence again.

Next week we will continue to explore Charleston history through her places and people.