The Clemson Downtown has served as the social center for students and locals since the opening of the university. One of the most historical and well-known establishments located downtown is Judge Keller’s. Established in 1899, the store has gone through two turns of a century, world wars, desegregation, the admittance of women to the school, and the growth of Clemson University into a large public research university. The store first opened as a tailoring shop for cadets, and owner Issac Leonard Keller earned the nickname “Judge” due to his exceptional ability to determine how a cadet’s uniform ought to fit, even without measuring. This nickname was passed down to his son, W. B. Keller, along with the store. Today, the store is run by Leonard Keller II with the help of his son Ben, marking the third generation to own and operate the store.
When Clemson was a military school, Keller’s primarily sold cadet uniforms, placing advertisements in The Tiger newspaper for items such as army shoes and dress clothes. Today, the store has tables and shelves filled with Clemson merchandise and memorabilia. Some of the most popular items nowadays include T-shirts, shorts, sweatshirts, and hats, all decorated with Clemson emblems. The original paint on the bricks outside still stands, the infamous “Judge Keller’s-General Merchandise-Reasonable Prices” painted on the front. Recently, a mural has been added to the side of the building that many visitors take pictures at. Judge Keller’s still stands over a century later as a place filled with fun as well as history.