CHARLESTON, SC (WCBD) — If you take a trip down Unity Alley and have a meal at McCrady’s Tavern, you’re taking part in an experience shared by some of histories most influential people.
This establishment on East Bay Street was founded hundreds of years ago by a man named Edward McCrady.
McCrady wore many hats. In historical records, he is listed as a barber, an inventor, a breeder and racer of horses, but he was known best for his tavern.
Restaurant manager and history buff Michael Hennessy says it was a popular spot for Charleston’s most prominent citizens until the British took the city in 1780.
“Cornwallis decides that he is going to arrests several prominent Charlestonians under the threat of treason because he didn’t want an uprising in Charleston.”
McCrady was among those arrested. He was held in the Charleston’s Provost Dungeon before being sent to a prison in St. Augustine.
The treason charges were never substantiated and eventually McCrady and the other prisoners were set free. When he returned it was back to business.
“In 1788 he mortgaged off his home again,” says Hennessy. “he bought several properties around his tavern in order to build McCrady’s Long Room.”
At the time, The Long Room was one of the biggest spaces in the city. It held many events and shows, but one would stand alone.
“We had the pleasure of hosting George Washington in 1791 on May fourth. As his personal journal states, a sumptuous feast.”
It was the social event of the decade for Charleston, but since then the building itself went through many changes.
It was home to several different businesses including a printing company. It was even marked for demolition before its history was uncovered and its legacy preserved.
Most of the floors and walls withstood the test of time. In many rooms the original wood and structures are still in tact, but it’s the name and the history they hope will survive for centuries to come.