Blog : Project Updates



On March 19, 2016, CWHC Executive Director Brittany Lavelle Tulla and CWHC Vice Board Chair Ruthie Ravenel joined three-dozen members of Congress on the 2016 Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage during its stop in Charleston. The CHWC contingency used this time to connect with South Carolina and national political leaders to introduce Charleston’s World Heritage project and lobby for its mission.

Each year, members of Congress congregate for an annual bipartisan pilgrimage hosted by the Faith and Politics Institute to learn the role southern states played in the civil rights movement. As stated by the Institute, the intent is to bring “members of Congress together in a spirit of openness, honesty and reconciliation across lines of race, religion and political party for the purpose of working together in service of our nation and the world.” This year, the congregation visited three cities in South Carolina: Columbia, Orangeburg and Charleston. The event was co-hosted by U.S. House of Representatives Assistant Democratic Leader Jim Clyburn (D-SC), U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), and Civil Rights movement icon U.S. Representative John Lewis (D-GA).

The day’s events included a talk on Charleston Civil Rights leader Septima Clark, the Charleston Hospital Workers’ Strike of 1969 and the development of the Gullah Geechee culture. The cornerstone of the day was hearing from the families, survivors and first responders of the June 17th, 2015 shooting of nine citizens at the Mother Emanuel AME Church.

CWHC was honored to walk alongside members Congress and engage in this important conversation on the history of race relations in Charleston, SC.

To learn more about the South Carolina Congressional Pilgrimage or the Faith and Politics Institute, visit:

Congressional PilgrimageBrittany Lavelle Tulla, Congressman James E. Clyburn and Ruthie Ravenel

at the Congressional Pilgrimage’s evening reception in Charleston, SC (3/19/2016)


CWHC in Washington, D.C.

Charles World Heritage
The CWHC table at the US/ICOMOS 50th Anniversary Gala, December 10, 2015

Charleston Among U.S. World Heritage Representatives at Gala

A big step for the CWHC! This December, members of the Board and Advisory Council of CWHC traveled to Washington, D.C. to represent Charleston at the 50th Anniversary Gala for US/ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites). The event was held at the Organization of American States Building and was attended by World Heritage representatives and experts from across the nation.

ICOMOS is an association that works for the conservation and protection of cultural heritage places around the world, and provides assistance and advice to UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) on World Heritage designations. In the United States, US/ICOMOS offers guidance to the National Park Service, who nominates U.S. sites to UNESCO for potential World Heritage listing.

Charleston’s delegation included:

Brittany Lavelle Tulla, Director, CWHC

Stephen Ziff, Board Chair, CWHC

Winslow Hastie, Historic Charleston Foundation (institutional member of US/ICOMOS)

Grant Gilmore, College of Charleston and US/ICOMOS Trustee

Ruthie Ravenel, Board Vice Chair, CWHC

CWHC delegation: Brittany Lavelle Tulla, Stephen Ziff, Winslow Hastie, Grant Gilmore and Ruthie Ravenel


Charleston’s Debut at the U.S. National Committee for UNESCO

The following day, CWHC presented at the annual meeting of the U.S. National Committee for UNESCO, a Federal Advisory Committee that advises on worldwide humanitarian development, including UNESCO’s World Heritage program. This was an invaluable opportunity to introduce CWHC’s project and mission to a diverse group of U.S. cultural leaders and advocates of World Heritage.

The CWHC intends to continue the conversation of Charleston’s World Heritage eligibility with these national leaders, and looks forward to the opportunity to further converse on the development of World Heritage in the United States in the future!



CWHC Donation and Signature Drive

CWHC Donation and Signature Drive

Charleston World Heritage is pleased to announce our partnership with some of our favorite local businesses to further promote the efforts of CWHC. By signing the petition, you are showing your support for Charleston to be become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition to the signatures, CWHC also needs to raise funds to complete the entry process. Anyone that signs the petition or makes a donation will be entered to win a fabulous gift bag with goodies from some of our favorite Charleston businesses. Take a fabulous City Tour of Charleston courtesy of Charleston Ventures, and enjoy a lovely dinner at Leaf Restaurant. Attend an Artists Lecture hosted by the Gibbes Museum of Art, receive a beautiful weekender bag from Proud Mary filled with gifts from Charleston’s favorite toy store for kids and adults Wonder Works, J. Stark, King Bean Roaster, and Carolina Coasters!

If you sign the petition AND donate you will receive two additional entries into the contest!

Share the petition on your social media and receive an extra entry! Donate, sign, and share for up 4 entries!

Twitter: @ChasWorldHeritage

Instagram: @CHSWorldHeritage



CWHC Gift Bag Contents 

– City Tour for two from Charleston Ventures, rated #1 on Trip Advisor 

– 2 Tickets to an Artist Lecture by Nancy Braithwaite, followed by a reception hosted by the Gibbes Museum of Art at the Charleston Library

– Weekender Bag from Proud Mary

– $100 Gift Card from Leaf Restaurant

– $50 Gift Card from Wonder Works

– Leather Wallet from local maker J. Stark

– Coffee Beans from King Bean Roaster

– Set of Coasters from Carolina Coasters

– Charleston Hooker Grilling Tool from Wonder Works


Winner will be chosen on August 15th!

Don’t forget to share on social media “Why you love Charleston” #ourcharleston

Use these images to show your support on social media!

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Baird Foundation Make Generous Donation to CWHC

Baird Foundation Make Generous Donation to CWHC

Baird’s Charleston branch, along with Baird Foundation, have both made generous donations in support of Charleston’s effort to obtain a World Heritage Designation. The Charleston World Heritage Coalition (“CWHC”) is also pleased to announce that Senior Vice President of Baird, Gray Coulton, has been selected to serve on the Board of Directors for the Coalition. CWHC recognizes Gray Coulton’s commitment in helping Charleston become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

“Baird has always taken great pride in forging close community ties, and as a firm we are committed to Charleston”, stated Gray Coulton, Baird Senior Vice President. “Participating in this coalition effort, which we see as highly beneficial to Charleston’s future, is something we are proud to be a part of.”

Charleston World Heritage Coalition is a non-profit whose goal is to put Charleston on the prestigious list of World Heritage Sites, the greatest honor a place can achieve. World Heritage status will enhance the Charleston community intellectually, financially, and spiritually. The city will be a more interesting, exciting, and diverse place as a result of the great people, industries, organizations and institutions that World Heritage status will attract. World Heritage provides an opportunity for greater learning and a higher quality of life for current and future residents of Charleston.

Baird has a long-standing tradition of giving back to the communities in which its associates live and work, both on a corporate and individual level. In 2013, Baird Foundation provided more than $2.9 million in support to charitable organizations.

About Baird

Baird is an employee-owned, international wealth management, capital markets, private equity and asset management firm with offices in the United States, Europe and Asia. Established in 1919, Baird has more than 2,900 associates serving the needs of individual, corporate, institutional and municipal clients. Baird has more than $100 billion in client assets. Committed to being a great place to work, Baird ranked No. 9 on FORTUNE’s 100 Best Companies to Work For in 2014 – its 11th consecutive year on the list. Baird’s principal operating subsidiaries are Robert W. Baird & Co. in the United States and Robert W. Baird Group Ltd. in Europe. Baird also has an operating subsidiary in Asia supporting Baird’s investment banking and private equity operations. For more information, please visit Baird’s Web site at

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.

Historic Charleston Foundation Joins Charleston World Heritage Coalition

Historic Charleston Foundation Joins Charleston World Heritage Coalition

CHARLESTON, S.C. – Historic Charleston Foundation has joined theCharleston World Heritage Coalition (CWHC), a nonprofit organization dedicated to obtaining UNESCO (United National Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage status for the city’s community and religious architecture. Historic Charleston Foundation, a nonprofit organization with a mission to preserve and protect the integrity of Charleston’s architectural, historical, and cultural heritage, has pledged an annual financial donation to assist with the expenses of applying for the designation.

“We are very grateful for Historic Charleston Foundation’s support, and we are honored to count such a venerable organization as a lead member of our Coalition. World Heritage designation will serve as a powerful celebration of the Foundation’s decades of hard work preserving Charleston’s unique material culture,” said Tom Aspinwall, the Coalition’s Executive Director. “The process of applying for World Heritage status creates exciting opportunities that are synonymous with its mission to educate the public about Charleston’s history and the benefits of preservation.”

Formed in 2013, CWHC plans to demonstrate widespread community support, raise public awareness, and ensure that all citizens of the greater Charleston area have a vested interest in obtaining the honor for the city. The CWHC will work to recognize Charleston’s historic significance recognized internationally through its inclusion as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The CWHC will use this designation to promote the city’s commercial opportunities abroad and to develop local intellectual, educational, and artistic prospects for the benefit of the greater Charleston community. The vision of the CWHC is to utilize the World Heritage designation to better the lives of all Charlestonians through:

• Increased discussion and celebration of the city’s diverse cultural heritage,

• promotion of economic development potential through strategic branding initiatives,

• attraction of greater social capital and educational resources,• exploration of greater funding opportunities for local property owners and organizations, and

• improved opportunities for partnerships across public and private sectors.

“The CWHC is undertaking an extensive nomination and application process and we are proud to be a partner in the process,” said Kitty Robinson, President and CEO of Historic Charleston Foundation. “In 2008, the Foundation worked with the City to update the 1974 Preservation Plan which recommended the pursuit of a World Heritage designation. This partnership is a natural one; both the CWHC and the Foundation are dedicated to protecting Charleston for both residents and visitors.”

The UNESCO World Heritage organization recognizes and protects natural and cultural sites that are significant to all mankind. World Heritage sites include places such as Edinburgh, the Pyramids of Giza, Venice, the Grand Canyon, and Monticello. A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place having special cultural and/or physical significance. To be included on the World Heritage List, sites must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one out of ten selection criteria. The World Heritage List includes 981 properties —21 of which are in the United Sates—forming part of the cultural and natural heritage which the World Heritage Committee considers as having outstanding universal value.

About the Charleston World Heritage Coalition

The Coalition was established in 2013 with a gift from local businessman Stephen J. Ziff, to seek World Heritage designation for the city. The Charleston office of Robert W. Baird & Co. and the Baird Foundation provided additional start-up funding. Historic Charleston Foundation is the first nonprofit organization to join the Coalition. For more information contact Tom Aspinwall, or visit the Charleston World Heritage website at

About Historic Charleston Foundation

Established in 1947, Historic Charleston Foundation (HCF) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to preserve and protect the integrity of Charleston’s historical, architectural and cultural heritage. The Foundation is known for its preservation and advocacy programs including protective covenants and easements; education and outreach; and it is the first organization in the country to establish a revolving fund to acquire and preserve important buildings, a model now replicated in historic communities across the nation. Preservation coupled with education and outreach is at the heart of the HCF mission. This mission is supported through the generosity of preservation-minded donors, the annual Spring Festival of Houses and Gardens, the Charleston Antiques Show, a licensed products program, and retail shops. In addition, HCF fulfills its educational mission through the interpretation of its collections and two museum sites: the Nathaniel Russell House, c. 1808, and the Aiken-Rhett House, c. 1820.

Local Value to the World

Local Value to the World

So why would the world’s No. 1 tourist destination, which regularly earns recognition for everything from its courtesy, romance and restaurants to its outdoor activities and arts, need another accolade? Because Charleston is much more than all that. Being designated as a World Heritage Site would recognize the city’s outstanding universal value.

A recently formed Charleston World Heritage Coalition is working toward applying for the honor based on some of the city’s most notable government, institutional and church buildings. The buildings tell the story of architectural styles spanning four centuries, early American architects, skilled slave craftsmen, early philanthropy and early inclusivity for immigrants and religious refugees.

And by the time the necessary and extensive research is completed, the buildings will have more stories to tell about their history and the city’s connections to the wider world.

The process is exacting and the odds of winning the designation are small. The last four applications by the United Kingdom to inscribe sites on the list all failed.

But the coalition here, the result of local businessman Stephen Ziff donating enough money to get the process rolling, is enthusiastic.

One advantage this application would have is that World Heritage Sites must have preservation plans. Charleston’s commitment to preservation is nothing new, and is backed by law. The Board of Architectural Review, for example.

At present, the World Heritage list includes 981 places of cultural or natural importance. Canada and Mexico both have cities with World Heritage Site designation, but not the United States. Grand Canyon National Park, Independence Hall, Everglades National Park, and Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado, yes. But no city. Not yet.

If the local effort succeeds, expect the tourist industry to reflect the victory. Some travelers, including Mr. Ziff, make it a point to seek out World Heritage Sites while traveling.

But other sites have enjoyed additional benefits. Businesses have shown an interest in visiting and locating nearby. The economy has improved. And the community’s pride has grown.

While Charleston has safeguards, World Heritage Sites also are held to high standards. Dresden in Germany was deleted from the list in 2009 because of a bridge that was judged to have undermined its universal value.

The UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage program has been asked to intervene in Edinburgh, Scotland, where a developer plans to build hotels near the famous Royal Mile. The Old and New towns of Edinburgh are a World Heritage Site.

Some will question whether seeking the designation is worth the effort and expense — up to $1 million. What difference does it make for residents?

But those same people will agree that Charleston is an extraordinary place and its public buildings tell an important story. It would make a splendid addition to the list of World Heritage Sites.