Last updated: May 8, 2020
Charleston's City Hall building was constructed between 1800 and 1804 in the Adamesque style. In 1800 the City Council conveyed this parcel to the Federal government for the purpose of erecting "an elegant building" that would serve as a branch of The First Bank of the United States. Charleston's branch was one of eight in the country, serving as the Office of Discount and Deposit. The design is attributed to Charlestonian Gabriel Manigault, a gentleman architect credited with introducing the Adamesque style to the city after studying in Europe. City Hall's semi-circular projection on the north side and round basement windows are characteristic features of Manigault. The white marble trim is believed to have originated in Italy before it was cut in Philadelphia. The original red brick walls offered a striking contrast to this marble trim before the walls were covered with stucco in 1882. The building was constructed by local carpenters Edward Magrath and Joseph Nicholson and mason Andrew Gordon. In 1811, the bank's charter was revoked by Congress, after which the property was conveyed back to the City of Charleston and became City Hall in 1818.
This site was originally set aside as a public market within the Civic Square of the Grand Modell, the 17th-century plan of the city. A beef market stood here from 1739 until it was destroyed by fire in 1796. This central intersection is now called "Four Corners of the Law," as the four buildings surrounding it reflect four arms of law--ecclesiastical, state, federal and City Hall's municipal law.
The original interior entrance hall was significantly altered in 1839 to create additional space on the second floor. In 1882, a new roof was added, the interior completely modified, and the brick stuccoed. The council chamber on the second floor remains the center of city government. City Hall is one of more than 1400 historically significant buildings within the Charleston Old and Historic District.