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Foundation Matters

A Tale of Two Properties: Winslow’s Word July 2024

Posted: July 8, 2024

Winslow Hastie, President & CEO


ARH from the work yard

I trust that everyone has had a festive 4th of July holiday! This month I want to highlight two very different historic properties in downtown Charleston that are illustrative of the innovative preservation work that Historic Charleston Foundation engages in every day. The nationally important Aiken-Rhett House Museum, which we interpret and operate, is a critical educational tool for HCF to present the intertwined narratives of slavery, 19thcentury politics, architecture, preservation methods, and rice culture—a range of topics that help visitors better understand the complex history of our city in a three dimensional format.

Preservation research at ARH, July 2024

Its assemblage of rare, intact outbuildings represents the most unaltered urban spaces where enslaved people lived and worked. The interiors have a spirit and a character that is difficult to describe—they are visceral, authentic, and hauntingly beautiful. We are honored to be the stewards of this incredible site and because of our “preserved-as-found” management approach, we take any interventions very seriously. We also think of it as a preservation laboratory where new approaches to technology, research, and materials can be explored.

80 Ashley Ave, Feb 2023

The second historic property, a modest former gas station in Harleston Village, was acquired by HCF last year with our revolving fund because it was threatened by neglect and caught in an unfortunate spin cycle of neighborhood controversy over its future use. Since the site has been downzoned to residential use, any reintroduced commercial use must go through the zoning variance process. We are confident that a neighborhood-compatible store that is additive for the surrounding residents can be reasonably explored. Vibrant cities offer a mix of properly scaled commercial uses even within residential neighborhoods. Neighborhoods flourish when pedestrians connect throughout the course of a day, creating visible activity in the public realm. A healthy diversity of uses has historically thrived in Charleston’s older neighborhoods because businesses serving neighborhood residents were typically woven into the local fabric. However, we are slowly losing the wonderful little stores that used to thrive throughout the historic district. After embarking on a significant masonry restoration project that has stabilized the structure, HCF has listed the property for sale. The property will convey with deed restrictions that will address neighborhood concerns about disruptive commercial operations. We invite preservation-minded entrepreneurs to schedule a tour! 

Stay cool,


PS. Catch up on our work at 80 Ashley Avenue and the Aiken-Rhett House Museum on our blog:

The Century Service Station, September 7, 2023

80 Ashley: Preservation in Progress, February 15, 2023

The Importance of 3D Digital Documentation, August 5, 2023

Preserved as Found: The Ongoing Work to Study and Conserve the Aiken-Rhett House Museum

A Restoration Journey for Painting and Frame, August 4, 2023

Charleston Session Artist Returns for Festival, March 7, 2024

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