South Carolina Picture Project

Tellis Pharmacy — Charleston, South Carolina

SC Picture Project  |  Charleston County  |  Tellis Pharmacy

This neon sign in downtown Charleston has been a fixture on King Street for decades, beckoning to customers of the former family-owned pharmacy. The two-story building was constructed in 1887 following the devastating earthquake of 1886. As was the case with many downtown buildings, businesses operated on the bottom floors while the second floor served as a residence. First used as a metalworks, this building later became Schwettmann’s Pharmacy in the 1920s. C.F. Schwettmann relocated to Charleston in 1871 after opening a pharmacy in Summerville – now Guerin’s – during the Civil War. His downtown Charleston business first occupied the Lining House on the corner of King and Broad Streets. That building had served as a pharmacy since the 18th century.

Tellis Pharmacy

Brandon Coffey of Charleston, 2016 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

C.F. Schwettmann’s son, F.W. Schwettmann, succeeded his father in the family business in 1894. The pharmacy was later purchased by Dr. John Huchting, who moved the business to this building around 1920 and retained the Schwettmann name. F.W. Schwettmann’s grandson, F.S. Poulnot, later opened another pharmacy in the Schwettmann’s building at King and Broad; it closed in 1960.

James Anthony Tellis bought this building in 1946 and opened a soda shop, called Ye Olde Fountain, here in 1949. In 1952 two of Tellis’s children, Vera and Tony, finished pharmacy school at the nearby Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and opened a drug store in their father’s building alongside the soda fountain. The soda fountain operated until the 1960s. Following the death of Tony Tellis in 1983, Vera and her sister, Alice Tellis Critikos, became partners in the business. Vera Tellis, who had been working as a pharmacist at MUSC, then came to the family business to serve as the pharmacist in 1988. They rented the upstairs as office space.

Tellis Pharmacy

Brandon Coffey of Charleston, 2016 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The Tellis family closed the pharmacy in 2011 but maintained a store in the building for another year. Vera and Alice finally closed the entire business in 2012; Vera Tellis was 80 years old. The family continues to own and lease the building, and today it is occupied by an antiques business. However, the familiar mortar and pestle sign still lights up the lower commercial end of King Street.

Tellis Pharmacy Info

Address: 125 King Street, Charleston, SC 29401
GPS Coordinates: 32.776991,-79.932874

Tellis Pharmacy Map

Please Share Your Thoughts!

Did you enjoy this page? Do you have any information we should add? Send us your comments below — we can't wait to hear from you!

One Comment about Tellis Pharmacy

Richard HamiltonNo Gravatar says:
September 8th, 2016 at 7:36 pm

My father lived in the apartment right where the sign is attached in the late 1950s. He always spoke well of the owners. This and the Hatman, as well as First Federal on Broad where the lower King/Broad shopping area.


Join Us on Facebook
Search for Landmarks


Abbeville ACE Basin Aiken Allendale Anderson Awendaw Bamberg Banks Barns & Farms Barnwell Batesburg-Leesville Beaches Beaufort Beech Island Belton Bennettsville Bishopville Blackville Bluffton Bridges Bygone Landmarks Camden Carnegie Libraries Cemeteries Charleston Charleston Navy Base Cheraw Chester Churches Clemson Clinton Clio Colleges Columbia Conway Cordesville Courthouses Darlington Denmark Dillon Donalds Easley Edgefield Edisto Elloree Fairfax Florence Folly Beach Forests and Nature Preserves Fort Mill Fountain Inn Gaffney Garden City Beach Georgetown Glenn Springs Graniteville Greeleyville Greenville Greenwood Greer Hamburg Hampton Hartsville Hemingway Hilton Head Historical Photos Historic Houses Honea Path Hopkins Huger Hunting Island Isle of Palms Jails James Island Johns Island Johnsonville Johnston Kiawah Island Kingstree Lake City Lake Marion Lakes Lancaster Landrum Latta Laurens Lexington Libraries Lighthouses Little River Manning Marion McClellanville McCormick Military Mills Moncks Corner Mountains Mount Carmel Mount Pleasant Mullins Murrells Inlet Myrtle Beach National Register Newberry Ninety Six North Augusta North Charleston North Myrtle Beach Orangeburg Pacolet Parks Pawleys Island Pendleton Pickens Piers Pinopolis Plantations Pomaria Port Royal Post Offices Ravenel Restaurants Ridge Spring Ridgeway Rivers Roadside Oddities Robert Mills Rock Hill Rockville Rosenwald Schools Salters Saluda Savannah River Site SC Artists SC Heroes of the Alamo Schools Seneca Shrimp Boats Society Hill Spartanburg Sports Springs St. George St. Helena Island St. Matthews Stores Sullivan's Island Summerton Summerville Sumter Sunset Synagogues Town Clocks Trains & Depots Trees Trenton Turbeville Ulmer Union Wadmalaw Island Walhalla Walterboro Waterfalls Water Towers West Columbia Westminster Winnsboro Yemassee York