Historic Charleston Foundation

1947 –

In 1958 HCF was the first preservation group in the country to establish a revolving fund for the purchase and restoration of historic properties.

Historic Charleston Foundation (HCF) sprang from the activities of the Carolina Art Association. In 1941 the association began a survey of historic buildings in Charleston, published in 1944 as This Is Charleston. In April 1947 HCF was incorporated as a separate organization to preserve buildings still lived in by their owners, instead of as museums.

To raise money, HCF sponsored its first Festival of Houses–a tour of historic homes–in 1948. Fund-raising efforts allowed the group to save numerous important buildings, including the Heyward-Washington House, Nathaniel Russell House, and Bennett Rice Mill. In 1958 HCF was the first preservation group in the country to establish a revolving fund for the purchase and restoration of historic properties; the fund was replenished when the buildings were sold to new occupants. Although HCF received national attention for its use of this method to improve the Ansonborough neighborhood, the project also displaced predominantly lower-class African American residents to make room for more upscale white owners.

In the closing decades of the twentieth century, HCF sought new ways to preserve the city’s history without such social effects. The building crafts program, piloted in 1987, provided job training in traditional building crafts for inner-city youth. In the wake of Hurricane Hugo, HCF undertook a fund-raising campaign to help low-income and uninsured property owners sustain the costs of the damage. The Neighborhood Impact Initiative, under way in the 1990s, brought the goals of the revolving fund and building rehabilitation to lower-class neighborhoods and employed the skills of the building crafts program graduates.

Stoney, Samuel G. This Is Charleston: A Survey of the Architectural Heritage of a Unique American City. Rev. ed. Charleston, S.C.: Carolina Art Association, 1976.

Weyeneth, Robert R. Historic Preservation for a Living City: Historic Charleston Foundation, 1947–1997. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2000.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Title Historic Charleston Foundation
  • Coverage 1947 –
  • Author
  • Keywords Historical Charleston, Lowcountry, Heyward Washington House, Architecture, Hurricane Hugo
  • Website Name South Carolina Encyclopedia
  • Publisher University of South Carolina, Institute for Southern Studies
  • URL
  • Access Date October 31, 2020
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update May 18, 2016
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