Judge Keller's Store

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"Judge" Keller's Store is a three-generation Clemson institution, a dry goods store located on the southwest corner of College Avenue and N. Clemson Avenue in the heart of downtown Clemson. Located at 307 College Avenue, phone 864-654-6446.


Founding[edit]

The origins of "Judge" Keller's Store can be found in the first graduating class of Clemson cadets in 1896 when Isaac Leonard Keller would have been one of 32 plank-holding alumni, had he not left school after two years, wherein he discovered his natural quartermaster instincts. He opened Keller's Store in 1899 in a 30 foot by 28 foot woodframe building with a pitched roof on the northwest corner of what would later become College Avenue and Clemson Avenue. The deed for the building is dated November 22, 1899. Keller was incensed, though, to discover that he had only been sold the actual building, not including the access easements.

"Judge" Keller[edit]

Keller's Store stocked Clemson cadet uniform supplies, and Isaac Leonard Keller was so good at sizing up the students' wardrobe sizes when he was outfitting them that he was accorded the popular nickname of "Judge" Keller.

Relocation and Expansion[edit]

Judge Keller's Store in 1936

Dissatisfaction with the original property led the Honorable Keller to eventually move his business across the street to the present location in 1918 where he erected a woodframe building with a flat roof and a covered front porch. In 1936, the familiar brick structure that operates today replaced the rustic-looking emporium.

The next generation[edit]

"Judge" Keller's son, William Bryan Keller, was a graduate of Clemson class of 1933, a Chemistry major. He landed a job at Clemson as the U.S. Agricultural Department agent, performing soil tests across the state of South Carolina, working this job until the onset of World War II. As a Reserve officer, he was called up for duty and went to work in the area of chemical warfare, with assignments in Sicily, Italy, and at the Huntsville Arsenal at Huntsville, Alabama. He was mustered out of the army in mid-1946. Returning to Clemson from Tullahoma, Tennessee, his last assignment, he took over the family store from his father in the fall of 1946. He would operate the business until the fall of 1977, and also carry the honorific title of "Judge" Keller to the end of his days. He was married to former Miss Lila Vandiver.

The third generation[edit]

Isaac Leonard Keller, named for his grandfather, was born in the spring of 1946 in the Tullahoma Army Hospital, Tullahoma, Tennessee. He was six months old when his father took over the family enterprise in Clemson. He graduated in Clemson class of 1970, with a Bachelor of Sciences degree in Forestry. He assumed control of "Judge" Keller's in the fall of 1977, and operates it to this day. He goes by "Leonard", and is divorced. He has one son, Ben.