Amen Street began as Wragg’s Alley, a small passage through Samuel Wragg’s property, running from East Bay to Motte Street (now part of State Street). By 1788, Wragg’s Alley had been extended westward to Church Street and renamed Amen Street. According to tradition this name was given because “amens” could often be heard from two nearby churches – St. Philip’s and the Methodist Meeting House. In 1839, Amen Street was absorbed into the widened and extended throughway, Cumberland Street. Unfortunately from that time until now the colorful name had disappeared. In several areas of the restaurant are displayed authentic maps and documents from various years depicting “Amen Street” rediscovered by Charleston Historian, Robert Stockton.
In 1851, the mercantile firm of Leman & Aveilhe erected at 205 East Bay a three-story brick building with a cast iron storefront. In 1870, it was bought by William M. Bird & Co. and was always identified by a large sign in the shape of a golden whale. The earthquake of 1886 destroyed the building except for the cast iron storefront which survives today with some of the French plate glass intact and an original iron column in the bar. Bird rebuilt the building quickly and the business remained there until the 1950’s when it moved to Morrison Drive.
The Amen Street Fish & Raw Bar opened in 2009, reviving the “Amen” name by restoring this historic corner and creating a new Charleston tradition.