Our Story

“If you do anything, take care of people.”

Throughout the last century, 181 Church Street has had many iterations, guests and experiences, all contributing to Emeline’s unique identity.

In 1852, George W. Williams, a Charleston entrepreneur, expanded his wholesale grocery business by building on 181 Church Street. The business grew to be the largest of its kind in the South, generating millions of dollars in revenue.

Mr. Williams made his first store clerks partners in his business. Clerks, is named in their honor.

woman writing at desk

When Mr. Williams first built his business, he brought on his five most trusted clerks as partners with him in the firm.

In an age where power and prestige were held tightly by the elite, Mr. Williams chose to share the opportunity, beginning a culture of togetherness, entrepreneurship, and mutual respect that marked his business for decades.

historic blue wooden gate

In the 1860s, he was forced to close his grocery business but the significant capital generated over those years allowed him to invest in various ventures run out of the same building, including a provisions dealership and a bank.

As time came and went, so did the occupants of 181 Church Street.

Today at 181 Church Street, you’ll find Emeline.

historic Charleston home

Emeline is full of grace, grit, and determination. Everything is seen through her eyes.

postcard from Emeline