LEDE Sokol dedication PRINT LEDE01.jpg (copy)

Joe Sokol and wife Freida look up as their family's name is dedicated on a downtown Charleston block at King and Reid streets Monday. Morris Sokol, Joe's father, first launched his namesake furniture business in 1921 from a street cart and later much of a King Street block. Morris Sokol Furniture closed in 2015, and the site was sold the next year to investors. Andrew J. Whitaker/Staff

For nearly a century, Morris Sokol Furniture supplied chairs and furnishings to homeowners, first from a cart and then an expansive storefront in downtown Charleston.

Three years after the longtime fixture of upper King Street went dark, the Sokol name will live on at a corner next to the once-bustling business.

On Monday, Mayor John Tecklenburg honored the Sokol family by naming the former furniture store site the "Sokol Family Block" with a street sign at King and Reid streets.

"It's a well-deserved remembrance for your public service to the city," the mayor said as a large crowd of family and well-wishers assembled in the blocked-off street for the ceremony.

Morris Sokol's son, Joe, who inherited the business and ran it before deciding to retire in 2015 at the age of 83, said he was humbled by the street-corner dedication.

+4 
Joe Sokol Sokol dedication04.jpg

"The key doesn't fit anymore. I guess it's true. It's not my building anymore," Joe Sokol said as he attempted to unlock the door of the former Morris Sokol Furniture building, the store his father, Morris Sokol, opened in 1929. The Charleston business dates back to 1921. The King Street store closed in 2015. Andrew J. Whitaker/Staff

"I appreciate it and feel honored by the crowd and the action taken by the city," Sokol said.

Sokol drew laughter when he jokingly tried to get into the store.

"The key doesn't fit anymore," he turned to the crowd and said. "I guess it's true. It's not my building anymore."

Sokol sold the former furniture store site in 2016 for $22.5 million to business partners Mike Shuler of Charleston and Freddie Simon of Connecticut, who have not announced definite plans for the two-story, 37,000-square-foot former showroom, an adjoining warehouse and a parcel on Reid Street. They are looking at a mix of uses.

+4 
Morris Sokol Furniture (copy) (copy)

The former Morris Sokol Furniture store on King Street in downtown Charleston closed in 2015 after 94 years of selling housewares. File/Leroy Burnell/Staff

"We don't have a tenant to announce yet," Shuler said Monday after presenting the Sokol family with a sign that read, "Joseph H. Sokol - President."

"We want it to be the best it can be and be the right fit," Shuler added.

The business was started in 1921 by Morris Sokol, Joe Sokol’s father, “with a dream and a delivery cart.” In 1929, after years of peddling his wares on the streets, Morris Sokol opened a furniture store about half the size of the current site at 510 King St.

Joe Sokol, who started working at the store after graduating from The Citadel in the early 1950s, decided to close the business in 2015, when no family members wanted to take over the home furnishing enterprise.

The building is in the middle of the rapidly changing upper King corridor.

Sign up for our new business newsletter

We're starting a weekly newsletter about the business stories that are shaping Charleston and South Carolina. Get ahead with us - it's free.


+4 
Sokol dedication wide shot of king03.jpg

Mayor John Tecklenburg honored the Sokol family Monday by naming the former Morris Sokol Furniture store site in downtown Charleston the "Sokol Family Block." Andrew J. Whitaker/Staff

Nearby, two Hyatt hotels are now operating at the Midtown site, the mid-rise Skygarden student apartment building is open a block away, another multifamily structure is slated behind the Sokol site and another, called Kingston Place, is rising just north of the property at Spring and King.

The new Homewood Suites by Hilton Historic District Hotel is open on Reid Street, the upscale Bennett Hotel could open later this year south of the Sokol site on King, and the former Dixie Furniture site across the street is slated for lodging use as well.

+4 
Ross Appel Sokol dedication02.jpg

Ross Appel, the grandson of Joe Sokol, talks about his grandfather's business, Morris Sokol Furniture, during a block dedication Monday to the Sokol family. The well-known downtown business had been in operation 94 years before closing in 2015. Andrew J. Whitaker/Staff

Lots of new restaurants, bars and retail space also have moved in, feeding off the influx of new rental residents and hotels.

Tecklenburg lauded Sokol for helping to invest in the rejuvenation of a part of the city when it was not the hip place to be not that many years ago.

"He helped lead the way to join the effort and keep the focus on upper King Street to return to its former glory," the mayor said.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 843-937-5524. Follow him on Twitter @warrenlancewise.