The BAR was established in 1931 with the creation of the first preservation ordinance in the United States. As stated in the City of Charleston Zoning Ordinance, the purpose of the board is "the preservation and protection of the old historic or architecturally worthy structures and quaint neighborhoods which impart a distinct aspect to the city and which serve as visible reminders of the historical and cultural heritage of the city, the state, and the nation."
Within the historic districts (see BAR Boundaries Map (PDF)), the BAR reviews all new construction, alterations and renovations visible from the public right-of-way. The BAR reviews all demolitions of buildings 50 years of age or older on any structures south of Mount Pleasant Street, and any demolitions (regardless of age) within the Old and Historic District. In addition, the BAR has jurisdiction over all structures included on the Landmark Overlay Properties list.
In reviewing alterations to historic properties and proposed new structures, the BAR adheres to the principles established by the Charleston Standards. In addition, the Board has adopted several Policy Statements in reference to particular issues of review. Most minor alterations, such as painting, sitework, signage, repairs, etc, are typically reviewed by Staff and do not require full Board review. Appeals of those Staff decisions (posted weekly on this website) may be appealed within 15 calendar days.
The Board of Architectural Review (BAR) is comprised of two different Boards: BAR-Large (BAR-L) for large projects and BAR-Small (BAR-S) for small projects. BAR-L agendas are capped at 15 items and BAR-S agendas are capped at 8 items.
Due to COVID-19, all BAR-L and BAR-S board meetings are being held virtually via Zoom.
Please use ONE of the following methods to request to speak at the meeting or provide comments. Provide your name, address, telephone number, meeting date, and project number. Requests to speak at the meeting and comments be received by 12:00 p.m. the day of the meeting:
Meeting video recordings are archived and can be viewed on YouTube .
Projects for BAR-L and BAR-S meeting agendas will be accepted digitally and should be submitted as noted below. Submittals must include a current application (PDF format), complete plan set (PDF), valuation of the project, and a completed Submittal Requirements checklist document (PDF) (BAR-L or BAR-S). Please note, 50MB is the maximum file size that can be received via email; contact staff directly to discuss larger files. Applications are due by NOON on the deadline date. When making submittals please use the latest version of documents found on this website as they are updated frequently.
Simple requests such as painting, rot repair, and small modifications may be sent to email@example.com and will be distributed to the Preservation Staff. Please include other applicable applications, photographs, and valuation of request. See also information about the Permit Center.