Historic Charleston Foundation was the first organization in the country to develop the Revolving Fund as a preservation strategy. The initiation of this fund in 1958 enabled the Foundation to begin the Ansonborough Rehabilitation Project, an extraordinary effort to save a six-block neighborhood bordered by Market, Calhoun, East Bay and Meeting Streets.
Through the Revolving Fund, Historic Charleston Foundation sought to purchase, stabilize and resell historic properties with protective covenants in Ansonborough where, over a 12-year period, more than 60 structures were rehabilitated. The accomplishment was hailed nationwide, and other preservation programs across the United States modeled local initiatives on the Charleston program.
In 2005, a preservation-minded buyer purchased the Daniel Legare House at 79 Anson Street, one of the earliest surviving structures in Ansonborough, from the Foundation. The Foundation retains protective easements on the property.
The Foundation's Ansonborough project is considered one of the first successful attempts in the country to preserve an entire neighborhood. To learn more, read Preservation for a Living City.
In the 1950s many houses in Ansonborough were threatened with "demolition by neglect," having stood vacant or fallen into severe disrepair. The Foundation encouraged pioneering homebuyers to move into the neighborhood to save formerly unwanted treasures. In the decades to follow, the neighborhood underwent a remarkable transformation.
The Henry Gerdts House at 13 Pitt Street, c. 1859-60, demonstrates another recent revolving fund success story, this time in "The Village of Harleston." Charleston's earliest suburb after Ansonborough, Harleston Village currently faces pressures relating to an influx of College of Charleston students needing housing.
The Revolving Fund was revitalized in 2004 with a $300,000 gift from the estate of Mrs. Charles Henry (Elizabeth) Woodward. With this seed money, the Foundation purchased 79 Anson Street and 9 George Street, both of which were sold with protective covenants to preservation-minded buyers. In 2005, the Foundation purchased 13 Pitt Street, one of the largest properties in Harleston Village, and one that retains much of its original historic fabric. It, too, was sold to a responsible buyer who placed protective covenants on the property and will soon undertake a sensitive renovation.
Read the 2014 article co-authored by Winslow Hastie and April Wood, The Evolving Revolving Fund: Historic Charleston Foundation Revamps Its Pioneering Program.