F. W. Wagener Building
The F.W. Wagener Building
161 E Bay St, Charleston, SC 29401
Constructed 1880; rehabilitated 1980, 1996. Richard P. Southard, builder. This structure was originally built by F.W. Wagener & Co., perhaps incorporating some earlier structures, such as a wholesale grocery store. The property also included a warehouse at Queen Street, supporting the firm's wide-ranging enterprises including cotton, naval stores, fertilizers, as well as liquor and foodstuffs. Wagener's building epitomizes the transition between the Romanesque and the emerging commercial version of the Queen Anne style. Featuring elaborate glazed and pressed red brickwork walls and pilasters, with yellow brick forming a series of arches and belt courses, a pavilion dominates the central east facade, while the principal entry stands within a 3-story turret at the northeast corner. The arcaded 1st story includes flanking cast-iron columns hinting at the columns supporting the interior. By contrast, on the Queen Street side, the attached 3-story warehouse of roughly pointed brownish brick was constructed in a Classical Revival style with pilasters on the 1st floor and a blind arch capped by an arched pediment on the 2nd floor. This warehouse, which has been attributed to the hand of antebellum architect Francis Lee, once featured 80-by-260 foot open floor spaces on each level. Wagener was the consummate entrepreneur in late-Victorian Charleston. His family had emigrated from Hanover, and his brother served as mayor of Charleston while he, as chairman, sank his fortune into the Interstate and West Indian Exposition of 1901-02. His country house property, Lowndes Grove, was subdivided as the Wagener Terrace Neighborhood. John F. Ohlandt, scion of another family of German-Charlestonian grocers, continued their business at this location from the mid-1930s. In 1980 the front building was rehabilitated as a restaurant. In 1987 developers adapted the warehouse as condominiums, placing a parking garage in the gabled 1-story section at State Street.
Building number fluctuates from the end of the 19th century to the turn of the 20th century. See Sanborn Maps (e.g., 1902 Sanborn identifies it as 161-165 East Bay Street, whereas 1884 Sanborn has it in the range of 157-161).
October 9th, 2018
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