D. Epstin’s Clothing Store


Main Street
Columbia, SC


Philip Epstin (1836-1921), a founder and president of the Tree of Life Congregation, opened D. Epstin’s Clothing Store with his brother, David (1824-1880), in 1867. The brothers arrived in the capital city during its post-Civil War rebuilding and were among several Jewish families who helped resurrect commerce on Main Street during the Reconstruction era. For many years, Philip and David sold clothing, hats, caps, and other haberdashery on the ground floor of the Columbia Hotel. Located at 150 North Richardson Street (later 1531 Main Street), D. Epstin’s Clothing Store was advertised in the city directory as “the cheapest clothing house in Columbia.”1


After David died in 1880, Philip changed the name of the store to L. Epstin’s, likely in honor of his wife, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Wolfe Epstin (1840-1892). After Lizzie’s death, David changed the name to P. Epstin’s to reflect his own initials and moved a block north to 1637 Main Street by 1895. In 1898, he married Charlotte Zacharias (1861-1921), and his business was listed in the city directory at 1621 Main Street. Philip closed the store by 1899 and spent the next two decades working as a traveling salesman and merchandise broker.


When Philip died in 1921, the author of his obituary wrote, “today men with married sons and daughters…recollect buying short trousers from Philip Epstin’s store. A good business man and a good citizen, Mr. Epstin won the esteem of Jews and Gentiles alike.”2


1 Beasley & Emerson, Beasley & Emerson’s Columbia Directory for 1875-76 (Columbia, SC: Beasley & Emerson, 1876), unpaginated, view J; digital image, South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina (https://digital.tcl.sc.edu/digital/collection/sccitydirec/id/1369/rec/4: accessed 20 November 2023).

2 “Aged Merchant Dies at Home,” State, August 8, 1921, 2.

Main Image: Photograph of Philip Epstin. Reprinted from Belinda and Richard Gergel’s In Pursuit of the Tree of Life: A History of the Early Jews of Columbia, South Carolina, and the Tree of Life Congregation (1996).


Above Image: Postcard of the Columbia Hotel. Image courtesy of Postcards of the Midlands Collection, Richland Library, Columbia, SC.


Above Image: Advertisement for D. Epstin’s. Reprinted from Beasley & Emerson’s Columbia Directory (1875-1876).


Above Image: Advertisement for L. Epstin’s. Reprinted from City Directory of Columbia, SC (1888).

The Jewish Merchant Project is supported by the generosity of the Henry & Sylvia Yaschik Foundation and the Stanley B. Farbstein Endowment at the Coastal Community Foundation.

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Sylvia Vlosky Yaschik Jewish Studies Center
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