New guidelines in development for elevating historic Charleston buildings

The city of Charleston and the Preservation Society are working together to develop the...
The city of Charleston and the Preservation Society are working together to develop the guidelines. (Source: Live 5)
Updated: Jan. 23, 2019 at 6:22 AM EST
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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Homeowners who live in Downtown Charleston are no strangers to flooding. Now, the city is working to ensure that historic properties aren’t damaged and Charleston’s unique history is preserved.

On Wednesday, The City of Charleston’s Board of Architectural Review will present a set of guidelines for elevating historic properties.

In the past, the elevation of historic sites has been a tricky subject with buildings historically approved on a case by case basis and met with resistance from the city, preservationists and the community.

Preservationists in Charleston say a decade ago it was unheard of to talk about elevating historic homes, but with the increase in flooding now is the time for action. The guidelines ensure that any added construction maintains the detail and quality of historic material.

The preservationists who worked with the city to come up with the guidelines say essentially, what they don’t want is a peninsula filled with homes on stilts.

"We can’t simply take our city and put it up on stilts and hope that its going to be the same place. So what we’re doing is creating a proactive approach to help people get their houses out of the water in a way that’s going to make sure the character of Charleston isn’t damaged,” Kristopher King, the Executive Director of the Preservation Society of Charleston said.

The new guidelines give homeowners examples of what that elevation should look like. That includes raised yards, vented foundations, brick entryway stairs and encouraging the use of plants to help absorb water.

Right now there are more than 30 homeowners who are ready to apply for elevation once the guidelines are approved.

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