Citadel files appeal to demolish Capers Hall over safety concerns, class sizes

VIDEO: Citadel files appeal to demolish Capers Hall over safety concerns, class sizes

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Citadel officials want to demolish Capers Hall and rebuild the structure to include updates in safety and classroom sizes, but some believe the building holds historic significance to the area.

The Board of Architectural Review denied the demolition in December. That’s why the school filed an appeal with Charleston county saying that denying the demolition is a disadvantage to the students and teachers inside.

“It’s one that needs to be replaced because it doesn’t meet our needs,” John Dorrian, Citadel vice president of communications said. “It’s not big enough to meet the needs of our students and it doesn’t really allow for the modern teaching methods.”

More than 75 percent of cadets take classes at Capers Hall. In its place, the Citadel plans to build a $68 million facility increasing the number of classrooms and putting in a community theater.

“What we want to do is be consistent with the way the rest of the campus looks,” Dorrian said. “We would remain true to that with the new design.”

The building was originally completed in 1951, with a major addition in the late 70s. Not much has changed. Beyond outdated facilities, poor insulation and peeling paint. Citadel officials say the building frequently floods and isn't structurally sound to survive an earthquake.

But the city's architectural review board unanimously voted to oppose the demolition of Capers hall during a meeting in December, saying it holds historic significance and school did not provide a credible reason to demolish it.

During that meeting, Anna Catherine Carroll with the Preservation Society of Charleston agreed with the board’s decision, saying renovating the structure would be a better option.

“We feel the building can be successfully rehabilitated and with the demolition of the sizable 1970s addition,” Carroll said during public comment. “The preservation society is hopeful that the historic building can be incorporated into any redevelopment of the site.”

City Planning, Preservation and Sustainability Director Jacob Lindsey said he agrees with The Citadel to demolish the outdated building.

“We thought that the building could come down, we thought that it could be replaced with another building that could be better serving for the citadel and the city,” Lindsey said. “However, the board members were minded differently.”

Lindsey said he hopes the city, college and review board can come to a compromise.

“We want to make sure that the campus continues to be a significant and important place and work with our partners at the citadel that they can improve and upgrade their campus, that’s very important for us,” he said.

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