Hibernian Hall

Quick Facts
105 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC
National Historic Landmark

Hibernian Hall, a National Historic Landmark, was built in 1840 to provide a meeting place for the Hibernian Society, an Irish benevolent organization founded in 1801. The Hall is the only extant building associated with the National Democratic Convention of 1860, one of the most critical political assemblies in this nation's history. Hibernian Hall served as the convention headquarters for the faction supporting Stephen A. Douglas. It was hoped that Douglas would bridge the gap between the northern and southern delegates on the issue of extending slavery to the territories. The first floor of the Hall was used for meetings, while the second floor was filled with hundreds of cots for the delegates. The convention disintegrated no candidate was able to summon a two-thirds majority vote. This divisiveness resulted in a split in the Democratic party, and the election of Abraham Lincoln, the Republican candidate.

Hibernian Hall was the first semi-public building of pure Greek style to be built in the city, and the only building in Charleston designed by architect Thomas U. Walter of Philadelphia. Walter's design included an Ionic pediment which collapsed in the earthquake of 1886 and was replaced by a Corinthian pediment with brackets and a center circular-arched window. The dignified exterior of the Hall does not allude to the flamboyant ballroom and double stairhall within. The Irish harp carved in the panel above the main door and within the iron gates, as well as a stone from Ireland's Giant's Causeway, reflect the ethnic heritage of the Hall's founders. Christopher Werner, one of Charleston's foremost ironworkers, is responsible for the Hall's gates.

The Hibernian Society continues to meet regularly, holding elections, alternating every two years between a Roman Catholic and Protestant president. The Hall still serves as the location for many events, including an annual St. Patrick's Day celebration, society balls and other brilliant social occasions.

Last updated: February 15, 2018