Market Hall and Sheds

Black and white photos of the sheds behind market hall.
The sheds behind market hall, circa 1907.

Quick Facts

Location:
Market Street, Charleston, SC (Between Meeting and East Bay Streets)
Designation:
National Historic Landmark
OPEN TO PUBLIC:
Yes

The Market Hall and Sheds, a National Historic Landmark, are the only surviving market buildings in Charleston, and one of a small number of market complexes still extant in the United States. The Market is also considered to be one of Charleston's best examples of Greek Revival style architecture, exemplified by its massive portico supported by Tuscan columns. The buildings were constructed in 1840 to 41 and were designed by prominent local architect Edward Brickell White. The Market was the commercial hub of Charleston for many years and is an important part of the city's commercial heritage.

The land on which the Market sits was donated in 1788 by the Pinckney family for use as a city market. The first market buildings consisted of a beef market, country produce market and a fish market. White's 1841 market complex replaced the charred remains of these early buildings after the 1838 Charleston fire. Sheep and bull skulls decorate the stucco frieze of the Market Hall, symbolizing the presence of a meat market. The arcaded basement of the Hall is a typical characteristic of the region's architecture. The series of open-air sheds to the rear of the hall have brick columns, tile roofs, rectangular and arched openings, and some lattice work and louver panels. Meat and produce were brought to the market daily from nearby rural communities. Vendors were required to bring only fresh products. To that end, remaining products were thrown in the street at the end of the market day. Buzzards (Charleston eagles) scavenged the surrounding streets for this waste, a service so valued by Charlestonians, that the birds were protected by law. Other ordinances regulated butcher cuts and weights and required vendors to wear clean white aprons.

The Market Hall is occupied by The United Daughters of the Confederacy Museum on the second floor, and various shops underneath. The musuem contains a collection of artifacts of the Confederate States of America. The Sheds continue to be used as a market place for individual vendors to sell a great variety of Low Country arts and crafts.