Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Historic Preservation

Committee Chair/Advisor

Jon B. Marcoux

Committee Member

Harlan Greene

Committee Member

Katherine Parker

Committee Member

Katherine Pemberton


Though Charleston, South Carolina is known as a historic city, many of its historic landscapes lack representation within modern compiled histories. One such landscape is that of Dispensary and Prohibition-era Charleston, which can be defined as the period between 1893, with the ratification of The Dispensary Act, and the repeal of the National Prohibition in 1933. This thesis research documents and assesses the cultural and historic landscape of the Charleston peninsula during the Dispensary and Prohibition eras. This study intends to create a baseline with which this period in Charleston can be studied, both culturally and architecturally.

The primary data for this study comes from a 1913 pamphlet written by the Law and Order League of Charleston, which provided a list of known spaces of illicit alcohol consumption, coined locally at this time as “Blind Tigers” (as shown in the Etymological Study completed within this thesis), that were open on the Charleston peninsula in the middle of the study period. The properties on this list were researched individually using Charleston City Directories, Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, vertical property files from the Charleston County Public Library and the South Carolina Historical Society, 1913 Business License records, records from the Historic American Building Survey, and a combination of historic and modern photography in order to create a comprehensive knowledge base about Blind Tigers in Charleston.

The analysis of the research listed above displays trends in the spatial distribution of the 166 Blind Tigers from the Law and Order League pamphlet, the architectural typology, and the public-facing businesses that hid the illicit drinking establishments. These structures presented primarily as grocers with a corner store architectural typology that clustered primarily around the legally-sanctioned county dispensaries, which will be explained further in the following chapters.

This research aids in the comprehensive understanding of the Dispensary and Prohibition eras within Charleston and provides an architectural metric with which to better analyze structures that were potentially Blind Tigers during this period.



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