Mendel Dumas & Esther Read Dumas

182 Wentworth Street

Home of Mendel Dumas (1875–1962) and Esther Read Dumas (1879–1949), natives of Lithuania, who arrived in South Carolina around 1900. From 1912–1915, Mendel joined his brother-in-law Frank Read in business at 593 King Street in Charleston; by 1915, the family moved into the city to this house on Wentworth Street. In 1917, Mendel acquired a pawnshop at 220 King which he converted into a men’s store, specializing in work clothes. Initially known as a uniform shop for service jobs, M. Dumas & Sons became the sole provider of uniforms for naval officers stationed in the port city. The company was first in the state to carry Levi’s denim, and expanded into Western wear, sportswear, and outdoor wear for fishing and hunting.

The Dumases raised a family of five. After World War II they affiliated with Emanu-El, Charleston’s new Conservative synagogue. Mendel refurbished the congregation’s first building—an army chapel relocated to Gordon Street—creating a social hall in memory of Esther, who died in 1949.

182 Wentworth Street, 2017

182 Wentworth Street, 2017

Once the home of Lithuanian immigrants Mendel Dumas (1875–1962) and his wife, Esther Read Dumas (1879–1949). Photo by Jack Alterman.