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German Friendly Society
Photograph by Lissa D'Aquisto, courtesy of City of Charleston

The building that now houses the German Friendly Society was constructed around 1829. It originally housed a Bible depository, a use which reflects Charleston's response to the evangelical movement of the early 19th century. When first complete, the three-story brick building had a hipped roof with a square cupola. Although this cupola was removed, the building today retains many of its original features.

In 1882 the Carolina Art Association purchased the Bible depository for its headquarters. For several decades the building housed the beginnings of the association's art collection. In 1904, the association moved to its newly constructed headquarters at 135 Meeting Street, now the Gibbs Memorial Art Gallery.


Entrance of the German Friendly Society
Photograph by Lissa D'Aquisto, courtesy of City of Charleston
The German Friendly Society purchased the building for its headquarters in 1942. Founded by members of St. John's Lutheran Church in 1766, the German Friendly Society gave assistance to new immigrants and aid to orphans and widows. The Society meets here weekly, and while membership is limited to 175 people, it is not restricted to persons of German ancestry. The building contains a collection of artifacts that depict more than 200 years of the Society's history, as well as portraits of past officers, the earliest of whom were distinguished Revolutionaries. The original Society hall was located at 27 Archdale Street until 1864, when it burned in a fire believed to have been started by a Federal shell. The German Friendly Society is one of more than 1400 historically significant buildings within the Charleston Old and Historic District.

The German Friendly Society is located at 29 Chalmers St. The building is not open to the public.

 

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