The Oldest Continuously Operating Commercial Building In Georgia
In 1809, the site where Sorry Charlie’s now stands was purchased by the planter/lawyer Thomas Gibbons. In addition to his prowess in the courtroom, Gibbons was a successful businessman and real estate speculator who served three terms as the mayor of Savannah. William, Thomas’ son, eschewed traditional wooden structures, preferring instead to rebuild the neighborhood out of the brick and mortar materials that would outlast any of the challenges — fire, wind, or rain — that might befall it. He was prescient in his thinking. While the buildings have been renovated a number of times over the years, they have stood the test of time.
In December 1943, Frank C. Mathews purchased the property at 116 West Congress Street for his business, Mathews Seafood. In 1947, Mathews purchased 114 West Congress Street and commissioned a local sign-maker to build a neon fish sign for his establishment. The sign quickly became a local landmark and the Historic Savannah Foundation designated it a historic artifact. The fish still proudly adorns the façade of Sorry Charlie’s as a reminder of the rich history of the Ellis Square neighborhood and surrounding businesses.
William Gibbons would be proud that his dream of “building…as if to live forever” has resonated into the 21st Century. With the completion of our recent renovations, Sorry Charlie’s Oyster Bar proudly begins the next chapter at this historic location.
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