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CWHC on Walter Edgar’s Journal

CWHC on Walter Edgar’s Journal

CWHC Executive Director Brittany Lavelle Tulla and CWHC Board Member Tom Tisdale recently sat down with South Carolina Public Radio’s Walter Edgar to discuss Charleston’s bid for World Heritage status. From the history of the rice culture and the Lowcountry sites that best represent the plantation system, to the benefits of World Heritage and the nomination process, Tulla and Tisdale explained every aspect of CWHC’s mission and the road to gain international historic designation.

“The idea that Charleston could become a World Heritage Site is exciting not just for the folks of the Charleston or the Lowcountry,” said Walter as the interview came to a close. “It is really exciting for all of us in South Carolina because it is a part of our collective history. It will bring additional attention from around the world to a very special part of the world: our world, the Carolina Lowcountry.”

The interview aired on June 10th and June 14th, 2016 on South Carolina Public Radio. To listen to the full podcast, we invite you to visit:

From books to barbecue, from current events to colonial history, Walter Edgar’s Journal delves into the arts, culture, history of South Carolina and the American South. (A production of South Carolina Public Radio.)



CWHC ED Brittany Lavelle Tulla, Walter Edgar and CWHC Board Member Tom Tisdale
CWHC ED Brittany Lavelle Tulla, Walter Edgar and CWHC Board Member Tom Tisdale.


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On May 31, 2016, CWHC spoke to Ms. Davenport’s 8th grade SC history class at Moultrie Middle School on what is World Heritage and why Charleston is seeking a World Heritage designation. At the end of the talk, each student had a chance to write down what he or she thought was most unique about our home, the Charleston Lowcountry. Here are their incredible answers!



The Charleston World Heritage Coalition is eager to announce its partnership with the International African American Museum (IAAM). This week, IAAM chairman Wilbur E. Johnson and former mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr., chair of the IAAM Construction Committee, signed an agreement with CWHC Chairman Stephen J. Ziff to assist and support one another in achieving their similar missions.

The mission of the IAAM is to “communicate the largely overlooked history of African Americans in the Lowcountry, South Carolina, and explain how this population impacted the nation…to re-center South Carolina’s place in global history, illuminating its pivotal role in the development of the international slave trade and Civil War.” The museum will be constructed on the site of Gadsden’s Wharf, one of Charleston’s most significant slave trade landings and one of CWHC’s highlighted properties. A UNESCO World Heritage listing of Gadsden’s Wharf and other Charleston sites related to the plantation culture, which is the mission of the CWHC, will further the global exposure of the African-American history in the United States exponentially.

Together, the organizations plan to showcase Charleston and South Carolina’s history on a world history platform by commemorating the significant role of slaves in the development of our nation. For more information on the IAAM, please visit

The Charleston World Heritage Coalition (CWHC) is a non-profit organization established in 2012 and funded by the City of Charleston, Historic Charleston Foundation and many others to nominate historic sites representative of the Charleston plantation culture as a UNESCO World Heritage Site – the highest cultural and historical designation bestowed on a place or landscape. Over 300 local businesses have signed on as Coalition members (free) in support of the project. Join the movement today:

Symposium Deemed a Success

Last week, the Charleston World Heritage Coalition hosted international experts from six countries for three days of public meetings and private discussions to help the Coalition with its bid to nominate Charleston as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Symposium began with a public forum on August 19 with over 180 community members in attendance. The forum included presentations by experts on Charleston’s unique history, such Jonathan Poston, author of Buildings of Charleston and Jane Aldrich, executive director of the Lowcountry Rice Culture Project, as well as lectures on the World Heritage process from international expert attendees. Guest presenters were Gustavo Araoz, president of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and World Heritage consultants Alexandra Kruse and Bernd Paulowitz of insitu World Heritage Consulting in Paris, France.

The day concluded with two panel discussions and Q&A sessions featuring local supporters, such as Historic Charleston Foundation, College of Charleston, Jonathan Green and Daniel Ravenel Sotheby’s International Reality, and visiting international experts from Canada, Spain and Barbados.

The public forum was followed by two days of site visits and closed roundtable discussions to determine what is Charleston’s “Outstanding Universal Value,” i.e. what aspects of the area’s history is globally significant and important to the entire human race.

The international experts agreed unanimously that Charleston’s cultural landscape is worthy of World Heritage designation; however there is a long road ahead. The first step will be for Charleston to be accepted on the U.S. National Park Service Tentative List, a list of sites for consideration to be submitted to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee for a final decision. Once on the Tentative List, the creation of an in depth dossier of research and supporting documentation will be created to send to UNESCO for consideration.

The Charleston World Heritage Coalition views the recent Symposium as a success and major milestone in the process. The Coalition hopes to continue engagement with the public throughout the next steps of the nomination process, and maintain advisory relationships with the visiting expert panel. Ruthie Ravenel, board member of the Coalition stated, “We could not have accomplished such a successful event without the support and participation of our community and coalition members. We were very excited by the turnout at the events and the wide-ranging support we have seen in the Charleston public for this project. The Charleston World Heritage Coalition remains committed to continuing to actively engage the community in the form of open forums and discussions in the future.”

Symposium World Heritage Experts

The Charleston UNESCO World Heritage Symposium, taking place August 19th, will cover a range of topics relating to Charleston’s rich history and the city’s forthcoming bid to be designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The event will feature speakers from the international and local community.


Meet our World Heritage Experts

Gustavo Araoz

Gustavo Araoz is a preservation architect whose career combines professional practice, academia and institutional management. Araoz has a B.A. in architecture from the Catholic University of America and has also completed the International Architectural Conservation Program at the Paul Coremans Institute in Mexico. From 1995 to 2009, he served as the Executive Director of US/ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites). In 2002, he became Vice President for ICOMOS and ultimately President in 2008. From conservation theory to site management, Araoz has an extensive teaching background in preservation practices. He led an urban conservation studio while teaching at the University of Pennsylvania and University of Maryland and has taught internationally in Brazil and Argentina. Araoz has been involved in many World Heritage Site projects nationally and internationally. He served as consultant/advisor to the World Monuments Fund, the US Commission for UNESCO, the Getty Foundation, the Getty Conservation Institute, the National Park Service, US Departments of Defense and of State, the Organization of American States, the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña, and national heritage agencies of Paraguay and El Salvador.

Christina CameronChristina Cameron

Christina Cameron currently serves as the President of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO and is a professor at the Université de Montréal, where she leads a research program on heritage conservation in the School of Architecture. For more than thirty-five years, Cameron has been involved in Canadian heritage preservation with Parks Canada. She has provided national direction for Canada’s historic places, focusing on heritage conservation and educational programs. Throughout her career, she has been involved in UNESCO and World Heritage, serving as Head of the Canadian delegation (1990-2008) and as Chairperson (1990, 2008). Additionally, she has chaired various international symposiums on strategic planning, cultural landscapes and global strategy for a representative World Heritage List, and spearheaded projects such as establishing a World Heritage Indigenous Peoples Council. In 2008, Cameron received the Outstanding Achievement Award, the highest recognition of the Public Service of Canada.

Alissandra CumminsAlissandra Cummins

Alissandra Cummins is a leading expert on Caribbean heritage, museum development and art. She has been a lecturer for more than fifteen years at the University of the West Indies and currently serves as the director of The Barbados Museum and Historical Society. Cummins was the first president of the Museums Association of the Caribbean from 1989-1992, served as the president of the International Association for Caribbean Archaeology from 1991-1995, and was the secretary on the Board of the Caribbean Conservation Association. Between 1998 and 2001, Cummins served as Chairperson of the Advisory Committee of the International Council of Museums. She has held various positions in UNESCO, including representative of Barbados on the Executive board in 1998 and 2009, as well as Chairperson of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee for Promoting the Return of Cultural Property to its Country of Origin or its Restitution in Case of Illicit Appropriation (ICPRCP). In 2006, Cummins was recognized by UNESCO as one of “sixty eminent women who, in different parts of the world, in different positions and in different moments across the history of the Organization have made, and…are still making, significant contributions to the ideals and action of the Organization.”

Alexandra Kruse

Alexandra Kruse is an expert consultant in UNESCO World Heritage, specializing in agriculture, cultural landscapes and nature. Kruse is a member and/or co-founder of several scientific and social associations, and is founder and secretary general of EUCALAND, European Cultural and Agricultural Landscapes. In 1999, she received her PhD in Agriculture at the Christian-Albrechts University of Kiel and from 1999 to 2012, she served as director of the Bureau of Landscape and Services in Germany. Since 2010, she is one of the two directors of insitu World Heritage consulting ( As a director, Kruse is proficient in drafting Nominations, Management and Monitoring Plans and Tentative list applications, as well as organizing international meetings and conferences. Kruse has also led project management for and in cooperation with national and international organizations, universities and administrations, especially in Germany, Austria and France.

Monica Luengo

Mónica Luengo

Mónica Luengo is an historian and landscape architect. She serves as president of the Board of the International Scientific Committee on Cultural Landscape in Madrid, Spain, where her work highlights both natural and cultural landscapes that express the relationship between people and the natural environment. In 2012, Luengo spoke at an international thematic symposium in France titled “Cultural Landscapes of Agropastoralism” and recently, at the First European Conference for the Implementation of the UNESCO/SCBD (Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity) joint program intended to highlight the link between cultural and biological diversity. Luengo has published many works related to her expertise in the study of cultural landscapes.

Bernd PaulowitzBernd Paulowitz

Trained as an historian and political scientist, Bernd Paulowitz is a heritage and cultural information management consultant from Austria. Paulowitz is director of HisGIS, an historical and Geographical Information System (GIS) project, and currently serves as the international World Heritage consultant for the Charleston World Heritage Coalition. Paulowitz began his professional career at the UNESCO World Heritage Centre (WHC) in 1999 where he helped WHC carry out an analysis of the Operational Guidelines and the first retroactive inventory on the geographic information in the nomination files. As an expert on intangible and tangible World Heritage, he has also worked with or for other international organizations, such as ICOMOS, the Getty Institute, Gaia Heritage, Mihai Eminescu Trust and government administrations in Austria, Romania, France and Poland. Paulowitz has carried out several cartographic and GIS related works for UNESCO.

Dennis Rodwell

From the United Kingdom, Dennis Rodwell is recognized as a leading architect-planner specialist in the field of conservation and sustainability in historic cities. He received an architecture degree from the University of Cambridge with a special focus on conservation and regeneration in Western Europe. With the intention to promote the best practices in the management of historic cities and sites, Rodwell’s work in the field of cultural heritage has been published internationally. He has served government positions, such as conservation officer, urban designer, project manager and principal planner, and has also worked in private practice as a conservation architect. In addition, Rodwell serves as an international consultant in cultural heritage and sustainable urban development, and has provided consultation for the UNESCO World Heritage Centre and Division of Cultural Heritage, the German Agency for Technical Cooperation, the World Bank, the British Council and the United Kingdom Local Authority World Heritage Forum

Peter H. Stott

Peter H. Stott, an industrial and architectural historian, is a graduate of Columbia University’s Historic Preservation Program. In the early 1990s, as a student at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, he was privileged to attend four World Heritage Committee sessions, reporting on the activities of the Committee through a nightly e-mail newsletter. In the decade between 1996 and 2006, Mr. Stott worked for UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre, initially on the World Heritage Information Network and the Centre’s first two generations of web pages. As registrar for new, incoming World Heritage nominations, he developed nomination “completeness” standards, as well as technical guidelines for serial (multi-property) nominations. He has published on both World Heritage issues and industrial history. His 2007 book, Looking for Work: Industrial Archeology in Columbia County, New York, was awarded a 2010 “Excellence in Historic Preservation Award” by the Preservation League of New York State.  His most recent work, published in the George Wright Forum between 2011 and 2013, is a three-part series of essays chronicling the US involvement in the 1972 World Heritage Convention, “The World Heritage Convention and the National Park Service.” Prepared at the request of the National Park Service’s Office of International Affairs on the occasion of its 50th anniversary, the essays examine the origins of the agency’s international activities in the 1960s, and the key role that it played guiding the World Heritage Committee in its first two decades. Currently Mr. Stott is a preservation planner in Boston at the Massachusetts Historical Commission, where he is directing the scanning of the SHPO’s statewide inventory of historic properties.

Don’t forget to share this event on social media using #CHSworldheritage!

Twitter: @ChasWorldHeritage

Instagram: @CHSWorldHeritage


Charleston UNESCO World Heritage Symposium

Event: Charleston UNESCO World Heritage Symposium

Who: Charleston World Heritage Coalition, Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr.

When: Wednesday, August 19, 2015, 9:00am to 5:00pm

Where: Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim Synagogue, 90 Hasell Street, Charleston

Cost: Free

Contact: Brittany Lavelle Tulla


                  (732) 996-7745


Free and open to the public, the Charleston UNESCO World Heritage Symposium will cover a range of topics relating to Charleston’s rich history and the city’s forthcoming bid to be designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a World Heritage Site. The event will feature speakers from the international and local community discussing various aspects of Charleston history, as well as topics relating to the UNESCO mission and process for World Heritage designation. There will be a panel of local preservation groups and sponsors, as well as a Question and Answer Session with members of the Charleston World Heritage Coalition Advisory Council included as part of the Symposium. Speakers throughout the day include Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr., Gustavo Araoz, president of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and World Heritage expert Bernd Paulowitz. August 19th is the first day of a three-day event designed to evaluate Charleston’s global significance and draft bid for World Heritage designation. The following two days are closed sessions, and will include site visits, roundtable discussions and formal nomination recommendations by international academics and historians, leading UNESCO experts and historic preservation scholars from over six countries.

The mission of Charleston World Heritage Coalition is to have Charleston’s historic significance recognized internationally through its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site – the greatest historic designation in the world. The organization was founded in 2013 with the sole purpose of producing the UNESCO World Heritage designation application.



9:00am: Welcome, Rabbi Alexander, KKBE
9:15am: Mayoral Address, Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr.
9:30am: Introduction of Symposium and Charleston’s Global Significance, Brittany Lavelle Tulla, Acting Executive Director, Charleston World Heritage Coalition
9:45am:Introduction to UNESCO World Heritage, Alexandra Kruse, insitu World Heritage Consulting
10:15am: Refreshment Break
10:45am: Introduction to World Heritage in the United States, Gustavo Araoz, President, International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS)
11:00am: Charleston:  A Leader, Robert N. Rosen, lawyer and published Charleston historian
11:45am: A Comparison: The Value of Charleston as Compared to other Cities and Current World Heritage Sites, Bernd Paulowitz, insitu World Heritage Consulting
12:30pm: Break

1:30pm: Vernacular, Picturesque, and Reminiscent, The Cultural Significance of the Architecture of Charleston and the Lowcountry, Jonathan Poston, former member of US/ICOMOS Board of Trustees and Sr. Director of Properties and Hay House Director, The Georgia Trust

2:15pm: The Cultural Influence of Rice in Charleston, Jane M. Aldrich, Executive Director, Lowcountry Rice Culture Project

3:00pm: Break

3:15pm:  Panel Discussion with Local Affiliates and Sponsors, featuring Historic Charleston Foundation, College of Charleston, Daniel Ravenel Sotheby’s International Realty and Jonathan Green

4:15pm: Panel Discussion and Q&A with International World Heritage Experts

5:00pm: Closing Remarks, Brittany Lavelle Tulla, Acting Executive Director, Charleston World Heritage Coalition

You can find more information about this event and our Expert Panel bios on the Symposium page.


Don’t forget to share this event on social media using #CHSworldheritage!

Twitter: @ChasWorldHeritage

Instagram: @CHSWorldHeritage



New York Times Features Mayor Riley

New York Times Features Mayor Riley

The New York Times touted Mayor Riley to be the most loved politician in America! We adore Mayor Riley and greatly appreciate his support of the CWHC.  Read Frank Bruni’s piece and consider joining our coalition today!

CHARLESTON, S.C. — The custom here is for a mayor’s portrait to be hung in the City Council chamber only after he leaves office. But in 2007, folks got tired of waiting for Joe Riley to make his exit, and he was put on the wall while still on the job. He’d been running Charleston for more than 31 years.

It’s almost 39 at this point: a period long enough that he can’t remember the color of his hair, now white, when he first took office, in December 1975.

“Brownish-blond, I guess?” he said.

It’s equally hard for many people to recall what Charleston looked like back then. Its center wasn’t the beautifully manicured, lovingly gentrified showpiece it is today. That transformation helps explain why voters have elected Riley 10 times in a row. They adore the man, or at least many of them do, as I witnessed firsthand when I ambled around town with him last week. More than once, someone spotted him — he vaguely resembles Jimmy Stewart, only lankier — and then followed him for a few blocks just to shower him with thanks. READ MORE 

Charleston’s World Heritage Bid Taking Shape

Charleston’s World Heritage Bid Taking Shape

A high-ranking official from the Commonwealth of the Bahamas might seem an unlikely person to help chart the future course of Charleston’s historic preservation efforts, but Davidson L. Hepburn has worn many hats. As president of the United Nation’s 35th General Conference, Hepburn could offer key advice and support to those hoping to make Charleston the first American city placed on the United Nations’ World Heritage List.

Hepburn, who currently chairs the Antiquities, Monuments and Museums Corp. of The Bahamas, is in town this week and has been kept very busy. The idea for his visit took root because of a chance meeting with Lowcountry resident Rusty Denman at a church in the Bahamas. Shortly afterward, the Charleston World Heritage Coalition – the new nonprofit hoping to get the city recognized as a World Heritage Site – invited Hepburn as its guest. Hepburn’s informal visit will raise awareness of the Charleston World Heritage Coalition, and he could offer advice as the coalition’s application takes shape.

The United Nations currently recognizes 981 world heritage sites, including the Taj Mahal, the Pyramids of Giza and Machu Picchu. But the United States has only 21 of them – mostly federally owned landmarks, such as the Statue of Liberty, the Grand Canyon and Yosemite National Park. That’s partly because Congress passed a law forbidding any World Heritage application without the consent of 100 percent of the property owners, a hurdle that so far has prevented any of the United States’ historic districts from making the list.

Local preservationists had been discouraged from applying because of the daunting task of convincing every homeowner in the district, but this new attempt will knit together about 20 prominent civic and religious buildings.

To enlist Hepburn’s help, organizers pulled out all the stops, with a series of dinners in private homes, special tours, a Spoleto performance and meetings with Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel, artist Jonathan Green and others. Hepburn and his wife, Dr. Ada Thompson-Hepburn, met Thursday evening with Historic Charleston Foundation Director Kitty Robinson, Preservation Society of Charleston Chairman Kristopher King and others. The hour-long discussion ranged from keeping the city’s neighborhood authentic to managing tourism to the political challenges of getting designated as a World Heritage Site.

Hepburn offered encouraging words and said Charleston is well on the road to getting listed. “The only thing I can say is for you not to get discouraged,” he said. “It’s going to happen.” Thompson-Hepburn said she has been impressed to see Charleston for the first time. “It’s just wow, wow, wow, wow for 24 hours,” she said.The city’s preservation ethic also is stronger than anything found in their home country, Hepburn said. “In the Bahamas, people just tear down anything, and they tear them down to make parking lots,” he said. “I know you have some ideas I can take back to Nassau and put into play.”

The Charleston World Heritage Coalition hopes to send off its detailed application to the National Park Service within a few years. When deemed worthy, the application then would be forwarded to the United Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, known as UNESCO, which ultimately would vote to accept it, turn it down, or refer it back to the United States for revision. That process could take several more years. Those working on Charleston’s World Heritage application say their success would demonstrate Charleston’s excellent quality of life and help attract investment of talent and industry as well as grant money for our cultural and religious institutions.

Charleston World Heritage Story

Charleston World Heritage Story

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) – Charleston is seeking World Heritage status from the United Nations – a designation for sites deemed important to all of humankind that include, among others, the Taj Mahal, the Pyramids of Giza and the Grand Canyon. The Historic Charleston Foundation this month joined the city and the group of businesses working for the designation in developing an application highlighting a collection of almost 40 places of worship and public buildings in the city’s historic district. The Charleston World Heritage Coalition will craft the application expected to run several hundred pages and hopes to submit it to the National Park Service by January 2016.

After a year, during which applications are often revised or polished, the Park Service can then send it on to the International Council on Monuments and Sites. That group reviews the application before it can be sent on to the United Nation’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, known as UNESCO, which votes annually on World Heritage applications. Charleston could be designated a World Heritage site in 2018, if all goes without a hitch.

There are 981 heritage sites worldwide, but only 21 in the United States. None of U.S. sites are historic districts and there are no sites in South Carolina. The United Nation’s agency accepts World Trust nominations for both natural and cultural sites based on several criteria. One of them is “an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates a significant stage in human history.” This is applicable to Charleston considering its architecture tells the story of American architecture over several hundred years.

Researching and compiling the application is expected to cost about $1 million. But supporters say the designation will be worth it. In addition to the civic pride of being designated one of the most significant places in the world, supporters say the label would provide a brand that will help draw visitors, attract businesses and mean preferential consideration for preservation and other grants from public and private foundations. The designation could also forge new partnerships for the preservation of the city founded in 1670.

During the months of preparing the application, Coalition supporters expect new research will provide more details about historic buildings and the roles they played both in local and national history. “We feel Charleston has the collection of buildings needed for this nomination process and we’re very hopeful the city will receive this designation which is so highly sought after and is such an extraordinary designation,” said Kitty Robinson, the president and CEO of theHistoric Charleston Foundation. The foundation is joining the effort to both provide financial resources and work to enlist other preservation groups. Six years ago, the foundation helped Charleston update its 1974 preservation plan. At the time, it was suggested Charleston move toward seeking a World Heritage designation.