About the Collection

The City of Charleston’s Board of Architectural Review (BAR) dates to October 13, 1931, when Charleston became the first United States city to adopt a zoning ordinance with a defined historic district. The ordinance established the Old and Historic District, the first historic district protected by local legislation in the United States. The ordinance also established parameters for the preservation and protection of the City’s historic buildings and neighborhoods, and it created and tasked the BAR with approving or denying architectural changes in the Old and Historic District.  

The BAR Photograph Collection contains photographs of Charleston properties taken by City BAR staff or submitted by applicants as part of the BAR’s decision process. The photographs range in date from 1930-1991, with the bulk from 1973-1984 (and many undated but most likely falling in that latter range). The photographs were not filed into the BAR’s vertical files and were transferred to the Records Management Division after 1991. The collection is organized by street and contains individual photographs as well as multiple photographs attached to sheets of paper, creating one larger file and/or image. The collection contains color and black-and-white photographs, as well as many Polaroid images. There are instances of supporting photographs in the collection from properties on other streets located on the Charleston peninsula that were used in reference to BAR applications that proposed changes for downtown properties. Additionally, there are photographs included in the collection that do not have a definitive address but are likely photographs of preexisting lots or structures that can no longer be identified in today’s urban topography. The photographs were likely used in the application process for the Board of Architectural Review, as indicated by the application numbers on many of the files.

This collection is in process with streets being added as the photographs are digitized.

Related Collections:
City of Charleston Zoning Ordinances
City of Charleston, SC, Report of the City Planning and Zoning Commission, Zone Maps

Collection Resources

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