On June 25, The Charleston Museum officially opened its newly renovated Courtyard. Due to a lack of funds, the Courtyard was left unfinished when the current Museum building was completed in 1980. Although the space was useable, it lacked visual appeal and real functionality. Thanks to funds raised by the Museum’s wonderful volunteer FANS (Friends and Needed Supporters), support from the City of Charleston, and a generous accommodations tax grant from Charleston County, the Museum was able to secure the necessary financial resources to undertake this renovation.
Designed by local landscape architect Sheila Wertimer, of Wertimer and Associates, the new Courtyard makes effective use of diverse plantings around a central bluestone plaza. Surrounded by palm trees, olive plants, okame cherry trees, knockout roses, Japanese maples, hydrangeas, camellias, and other plantings, the interior of the courtyard is now an intimate space appropriate for a variety of Museum events.
The crepe myrtles in the upper plaza, meanwhile, have been neatly manicured and are surrounded at their bases by attractive benches of Ipê, a durable, long-lasting wood also used in the benches at Charleston’s Waterfront Park. The Museum now has ample, outdoor seating for visiting school groups and event participants.
The rear of the Courtyard contains an 1850s steam engine, originally used for rice production, and the Bessie, a nearly 30’ long plantation barge, which belonged to the Manigault family and was used on their rice plantation. These impressive artifacts are now accessible by an attractive brick walkway and flooring and are accented by directed lighting for evening viewing.
Through responsible stewardship and efficient project management, we are pleased to announce that the renovation finished nearly $60,000 under budget. The Charleston Museum is grateful to the sponsors of this significant and needed improvement to the Museum facility, which has enhanced its appearance and usability and made it something of which the community can be proud. We look forward to its increased and regular use.
Photos from the Opening Reception