By Christian Sottile
“The Art of Architecture makes our existence not only visible, but meaningful.” –Francis Ching
Architecture is the subject of passionate debate in every city worth living in. Preservationists, review commissions, planning departments, elected officials, and engaged citizens participate in a spirited dialogue, as living cities re-populate and build again in the wake of the slow abandonment and suburban flight of the last century. Everyone wants to support good design, but it is elusive to find a clear explanation of what makes architecture “good.” Why do some buildings (often, but not always older ones) seem to impart a sense of well-being and promote human flourishing, while others make us feel ill-at-ease…or worse? Continue reading
December 8, 2016 marks the 64th anniversary of the death of Thomas Mayhem Pinckney, a relatively obscure yet integral, early figure in the preservation movement in Charleston. An African American craftsman, Pinckney’s life inspired the Preservation Society to name a special committee after him in 2012. The Thomas Mayhem Pinckney Alliance is dedicated to recognizing and preserving those sites and places in the Charleston area built by, occupied by, and utilized for activities significant to the African American experience.
Pinckney was born in 1877, son of cabinetmaker Nathaniel Pinckney. Educated in Charleston’s public schools and at Clark University Night School, he trained as a stair maker with Luther Alston, another local contractor, before beginning an apprenticeship with Snelson Contracting Co., builders of the Old City Jail and the Convent of Our Lady of Mercy on Legare St. Continue reading
What does it mean for a property to be located in an “historic district?” Continue reading
When Congress passed the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) 50 years ago, it affirmed historic preservation’s importance to the United States’ cultural, environmental, and economic well-being. The passing of the NHPA also formed an official framework for what had previously been a largely informal activity, taken up in grassroots efforts like those seen in Charleston in the 1920s and 1930s. The NHPA charged the Secretary of the Interior (SOI) with establishing professional standards for preserving historic properties and created the Section 106 process, among other programs.
Every profession has its jargon, and from the NHPA comes a complexity of terminology, which can, at times, make historic preservation and its processes inaccessible. With May being Preservation Month, let’s clarify some of the ambiguous aspects of preservation parlance. Continue reading
In 1842, Miss Eliza C. Cochran received a handsome piece of property on Bee Street from Mr. Thomas Pinckney as part of a marriage settlement.
Saint Michael’s Church in 1861 (via loc.gov)
One reason Charleston’s history is so alluring is that it is multi-layered, complex, and flavored with the diversity of several ethnic, cultural, and religious groups. In the late-17th century, inhabitants of the nascent colony included Africans, West Indians, Sephardic Jews from Portugal and Spain, Scots, French Huguenots, Germans, Dutch, Irish, and of course English. All of these groups have left their mark on the city in one way or another, but in the spirit of Saint Patrick’s Day, of particular focus here is the contribution of Irish and Irish-Americans to Charleston’s built environment. Continue reading
Image from the 2008 City of Charleston Preservation Plan
The Thomas Mayhem Pinckney Alliance is dedicated to recognizing and promoting significant sites and places in Charleston related to African American history. As Black History Month comes to a close, it is an apt time to highlight the considerable influence African and African American labor has had on the city, specifically its built environment. While the preservation movement’s policies and outcomes contributed to the current state of the Peninsula’s celebrated urban fabric, the skilled hands of predominantly black artisans were integral to the original creation of that fabric, the preservation movement itself, and the resultant building stock. Continue reading
One corollary to the ever-ascending Charleston brand is the steady influx of visitors coming to stay in the city and experience its culture, ambiance, cuisine, and natural beauty. As a result, there continues to be requests for new hotel accommodations. While a moderate uptick of hotel rooms is to be expected with Charleston’s rising popularity as a vacation destination, the Board of Zoning Appeals – Zoning (BZAZ) meeting on February 2, 2016 saw the approval of four hotels totaling 200 rooms, an unprecedented increase in such a short time. Continue reading
The historic rainfall and flooding in the first few days of October have greatly impacted many in the community and beyond. We sincerely hope you and your family have weathered the storm without damage to your house or place of business. However, if your property has sustained damage, or if you have questions or concerns about how to properly care for your affected property, please contact us by phone – 843.722.4630 – or by email – firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition, we would like to share a resource with you in response to this week’s flooding. Please refer to “Treatment of Flood-Damaged Older and Historic Properties” from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
By Tim Condo, Manager of Preservation Initiatives