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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • UP N' ATOM: c. 1950s

Meeting Street: 1911

Meeting Street: 1911

Charleston, South Carolina, circa 1911. "Meeting Street from St. Michael's Church." Our second installment of this multi-part panorama, with a nice view of the Fireproof Building and its Doric portico. 8x10 glass negative. View full size.

 

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Trade Statue corner of Queen and Meeting

I am a member of a historical group in Charleston SC. We are trying to determine what the statue pointing down Queen St is. It appears to be on a base as cigar Indians trade statues used.

Six Degrees of Roadster Separation

The unique drop axle on the front of that roadster eliminates both the Mercer and the Stutz, and instead points to the Empire 20. One trade journal singled it out for comment saying, "The front axle is one of exceptionally strong construction. The size of the steering knuckles would do credit to a car twice its weight."

This Empire looks to be a 1910 and the two bucket seats make it a Model B, rather than the Model A which had a two-person bench seat up front, and a mother-in-law seat mounted in back. Introduced in 1909 by the same syndicate that built the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the diminutive Empire 20—known as The Little Aristocrat—was the first to circle the Indy track after it was repaved in brick.

1910 Empire 20 Model B

Still, there is a reason that moTthediesel thought of the yet-to-be built Stutz when seeing this car—Harry Stutz was the designer and factory manager for the Empire Motor Car Company at this time, having just left a similar position at Marion Motor Car Company. While at Marion he helped design their large roadster, the Marion Bobcat and raced the product as well. Before his stint at Marion, he designed the very first conventional-chassis car for the American Motor Car Company in their pre-American Underslung days.

After starting his own company in 1912, he brought out the Stutz Bearcat, with a name styled after the Marion, a body style evolved from both the Marion and the Empire, and a size that fit perfectly right in-between the two. American, Marion, Empire, Stutz—Indianapolis companies all. As for the upstart New Jersey-built Mercer, they were the main competition for Stutz both on and off the track.

Look, over there!

Couple of things. I can't quite figure out the statue just under St. John's that's pointing down the street. How does one zoom into a photo, even after it's been enlarged? I've always wondered. Also, I don't believe I've ever seen a cupola roof used for advertising as it seems is done here. I think it says "bar" at the bottom, but here again I can't zoom.

[The "St. John" sign is on the roof of the white building in the foreground block. The "statue," here magnified from the full-size LOC scan, appears to be a kind of store sign. -tterrace]

Stutz or Mercer?

Which is it parked across the street from the Records building, a Bearcat or a Raceabout? If we're sure of the 1911 date of the photo I guess it must be a Mercer, as I don't think the Bearcat was available before 1912.

Either way, just about the hottest performance cars available at that time.

Fireproof Building

Prominently shown in the right foreground is the County Records Building, better known as the "Fireproof Building," designed by native Charlestonian Robert Mills and built 1821-1827. The building acquired its nickname because the architect tried mightily to eliminate wood from every possible part of the structure, including the window frames and the floor construction. Only the roof has wooden members. Mills later moved his office to Washington, where he designed such important buildings as the Washington Monument and the Treasury Building.

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