The Four Corners of Law: United States Post Office and Court House Part I

We have finally arrived at 83 Broad Street, the third corner of the Four Corners of Law. Here we have the United States Post Office and Federal Judiciary System representing the federal corner of law. Completed in 1897, this building was designed by John Henry Devereux, an Irish immigrant born in 1840 who began his career as a plasterer, but later became a noted architect. The Great Earthquake of 1886 demolished the prior structure at this site, making way for the present building.

The United States Post Office and Court House is a spacious building in the Renaissance Revival style with a wide sidewalk on the Broad Street side. Notice the rusticated stone with its rough surface; this is granite from Winnsboro, S.C. The grand tower with the United States flag rises above the other three corners of the building and announces to all that it is more important than State Law (the Old Statehouse Building) and Municipal Law (City Hall), but definitely not higher than God's Law (St. Michael's steeple).

In 1987, the Hollings Judicial Annex was completed on the south side of 83 Broad Street; this addition, named after (retired) U.S. Senator Ernest F. ("Fritz") Hollings, a local resident, provided the needed space and security for the federal judiciary.

This site was associated with various buildings prior to 1897, notably guardhouses (police stations) in both the 18th and 19th centuries. The famous Sword Gates at 32 Legare Street were originally designed and crafted by Christopher Werner for the guardhouse on this site in 1838. Werner was commissioned by the City of Charleston to create a set of gates, but he may have misunderstood because he created two identical sets; the city paid him for one set and George Hopley purchased the other for installation at 32 Legare Street. The city later gave its set to the Citadel when it relocated from Marion Square to its present location near Hampton Park. The Citadel gilded the swords on the left and right gates and installed them on either side of the main entrance gate into the college.

Next week, we will visit the interior of the Post Office and Court House at 83 Broad Street.