Resiliency offers a clear lens for addressing the problems of cities. It reflects not only a city’s ability to persevere in the face of emergency, but to continue its core mission despite daunting challenges. It is about the city’s ability not only to survive, but also to thrive. The challenges Charleston now faces are the result of success, not failure, and resilience is needed more than ever. The Preservation Society brings expertise and perspective to face the challenges to Charleston’s character and quality of life.

“Resilience is about more than just green buildings and soft edges to waterfronts. Truly resilient cities have to be economically resilient and socially resilient. Resilience can’t just be about environmental concerns, because in the end all these things are linked. So to me, a resilient city is one that’s equitable enough that people of different income levels can live together, with a robust transit infrastructure that serves those people, and a healthy network of public spaces, parks, and sidewalks. A resilient city should deal with issues like public health as well as environmental concerns.” Michael Kimmelman

Resilience Agenda for Charleston

  • Retain Charleston’s inimitable character
  • Strengthen resilience to environmental, social, and economic challenges
    • Support better balance of uses and retention of local businesses
    • Reconcile planning/preservation efforts with sea level rise
  • Encourage thoughtful planning/design to:
    • Enhance public infrastructure and public spaces
    • Promote greater equity and affordability
    • Mitigate flooding and negative environmental impacts
  • Push for regional transportation solutions

Toward a more resilient Charleston

  • Public Service Projects
  • Hazard Mitigation Plan
  • Challenge Map
  • Drainage Map 1950


Charleston’s precipitous growth has shifted the focus from long-term value to short-term gain. People are talking about what’s happening and they want to be more engaged. The Society believes that when people are empowered with information and opportunity, they can better shape the future of their city. The Preservation Society helps people pursue their commitments to the things that matter – and when there isn’t room for everyone at the table, we show up, we stand up, and we speak up.

“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.” Jane Jacobs

Engagement Agenda for Charleston

  • Promote participation of all sectors in city and regional issues of preservation, planning, and livability
    • Ensure interests span geographical, political, social, and economic perspectives
  • Educate and inspire better stewardship for Charleston’s future
  • Serve as an information clearinghouse on relevant issues
  • Make technical issues accessible to the broader public

Get Engaged

  • City Meetings
  • City Council
  • City Council Districts
  • Neighborhood Toolkit
  • Neighborhoods
  • Neighborhood Assoc.
  • News


Charleston is the real thing: honest, durable, and classical. It is not a packaged or fabricated playground, but a vibrant built environment that up until now has been largely defined by thoughtful design, careful planning, and sound execution. The Preservation Society strives to maintain Charleston’s authenticity by protecting its historic resources and advocating for timeless and rational design. Charleston’s history is real, its buildings are true, and the details matter.

“Smart planning accommodates…growth, but it must do so without destroying the authentic fabric and community character that make this a desirable, livable city…Building a vital city does not mean only looking to the future but also considering how preservation contributes to an authenticity of place and enhances livability.” Eugenia Woo

Authenticity Agenda for Charleston

  • Advocate high-quality design for new buildings
  • Advocate incorporation of traditional development patterns for new large-scale developments
  • Promote best practices in historic preservation
  • Provide technical assistance for property owners
  • Support inclusive planning
  • Promote a more authentic narrative of Charleston’s past

Toward a more Authentic Charleston

  • 1974 Preservation Plan
  • 2008 Preservation Plan Part I
  • 2008 Preservation Plan Part II
  • Local Historic Districts
  • Livable

    Livability is constructed on balance, and that balance has four pillars: 1) the beauty and harmony of the built and natural environments, 2) a diverse economy, 3) effective transportation networks and a range of options for getting around, and 4) affordability. Right now the balance is out of whack, as insufficiently managed tourism threatens the diversity of economic uses, a lack of good public transportation and accelerating sprawl are factors in congestion, and the beauty that surrounds us is being choked by poorly designed and constructed buildings that do not honor this unique place. While these impacts are most acutely felt on our roadways and sidewalks, the effects on the quality of life of the residents run much deeper. The Preservation Society is committed to restoring balance.

    “Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how.” Edward T. McMahon

    Livability Agenda for Charleston

    • Support implementation of the 2015 update to the Tourism Management Plan
    • Advocate hotel development reform
    • Target strategic improvements to the Charleston Zoning Ordinance
    • Advocate retaining, improving, and expanding affordable housing
    • Push for multimodal transportation options
    • Retain small, legacy businesses
    • Promote a diversity of commercial uses

    Toward a more livable Charleston

    • 2015 Tourism Management
    • 1998 Tourism Management
    • 1994 Tourism Management
    • Short Term Rental
    • Traffic & Transportation
    • Folly Road Study
    • Bicycle & Pedestrian Path
    • Bus Rapid Transit Plan
    • Transportation Planning
    • RDA “Living Here”
    • RDA “Doing Business Here"
    • Economic Scorecard

    The Preservation Society has been keeping it real since 1920.

    For us, Keep Charleston REAL is an organizational mantra, a mindset for holistically approaching each and every matter that relates to our community. From urban to rural settings, it starts with sound land use policy for the region and city, and scales down to decisions at the level of individual buildings and properties.

    The leadership and mechanisms in place to protect this community are not up to the task. The community must define its priorities and get engaged. As Charleston experiences an historic building boom and population influx, we ask you, the community, to help us Keep Charleston REAL. Charleston is so much more than an investment or a destination. It is a community of people who are passionate and poised to make an impact on its future.

    While preservation has traditionally been focused on old buildings, it has also endeavored to improve cities. Our focus today is to be a better steward of the historic city and a better advocate for the future city through collaboration, education, outreach, and advocacy.

    Please explore our work, and help us Keep Charleston REAL