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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:

Charleston World Heritage Coalition Executive Statement, October 1, 2015

Carolina Gold:   20 Iconic Sites of the Charleston Lowcountry Plantation Culture

Situated along the Atlantic coastal plain in the southeastern United States, the plantation culture of Charleston and the surrounding Lowcountry represents an exceptional example of human manipulation of land to exploit natural resources and create a distinct social and economic system that influenced the geo-cultural region from the late seventeenth into the late nineteenth centuries.  Through a confluence of geography, topography, climate, and human capital, Caribbean and European immigrants established a plantation-driven economy and culture in the Lowcountry that depended primarily on the skills and labor of enslaved Africans acquired through the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The former agricultural fields and formal landscapes of outlying plantations, together with key elements of Charleston residential, civic, and commercial architecture, continue to demonstrate how the plantation culture of the Lowcountry served as the cornerstone and economic engine of this globally-significant seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth century North American city.

Cash crops drove the development of Charleston and the surrounding Lowcountry’s extraordinary culture and economy, particularly “Carolina Gold” rice, which in the early eighteenth century became a worldwide commodity and stimulus for cultivation in other parts of North America. The resulting agricultural and mercantile economies, as well as the building typology they engendered, were made possible by a slave-based system. Even after slavery was abolished in the 1860s, the race and class divisions constructed through this labor system continued to shape social development in Charleston. The city and the surrounding Lowcountry landscape serve as a testimony to the power struggles and intercultural exchange between Africans, Europeans, West Indians, and their descendants across three centuries. The cultural landscape also distinctly reflects the urban-rural relationship that was significant to the economy’s growth. In the twenty-first century the Charleston area maintains key attributes of both the landscape and built environment of the distinctive culture produced through the historic plantation system.


  1. Caw Caw Interpretive Center County Park, 18th century
  2. Drayton Hall Historic Site, c. 1738
  3. Middleton Place, c. 1741
  4. Michael’s Episcopal Church and Graveyard, c. 1752-61
  5. Gadsden’s Wharf, c. 1767
  6. Old Exchange and Provost Building, c. 1767-71
  7. Miles Brewton House and Property, c. 1769
  8. Heyward-Washington House and Property, c. 1772
  9. Fort Sumter National Monument (incorporates Fort Moultrie), c. 1776, c. 1829-60s
  10. Charleston County Courthouse, c. 1790-92
  11. Daniel Ravenel House, c. 1796
  12. Charleston City Hall, c. 1800
  13. Nathaniel Russell House and Property, c. 1808
  14. William Aiken House and Property, c. 1808
  15. Aiken-Rhett House and Property, c. 1817
  16. Hibernian Hall, c. 1839-41
  17. Synagogue of Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim and Graveyard, c. 1840-41
  18. McLeod Plantation Historic Site, c. 1858
  19. Old Slave Mart, c. 1859
  20. Emanuel AME Church, c. 1891


The following themes may be part of the final nomination:

• Urban-rural relationship (waterways, Ashley River Road, plantation homesteads and urban counterparts, urban buildings constructed through agricultural money)

• Residential complexes: main house with work yard and outbuildings

• Single house typology (and its relationship to the freedman’s cottages)

• Charleston’s role in the transatlantic slave trade

• Physical builders of the city

• Formal plantation landscapes

• Agricultural fields and evolution of commodities (livestock, naval stores, rice, indigo,

• Reasons for settlement (economic gain and therefore religious tolerance, Barbadian influence on structure)

• Diverse origin of settlers

• Coherence in the typology and architecture between vernacular and sophisticated/grand/refined

• Charleston’s role in wartime: significant leader financially meant a leading player in

• Retained Gullah Geechee culture

• Development of preservation standards (i.e. historic district)

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.”

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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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 

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

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.