Skip to main content

To: City of Charleston Board of Architectural Review

Save College Lodge!!

The College of Charleston has recently released a multi-year campus redevelopment plan that includes the demolition of College Lodge, constructed in 1963 as the Downtowner Motor Lodge. This building is the last known Downtowner in the State of South Carolina that retains its original design and architectural characteristics. These buildings have been successfully redeveloped into modern hotels, apartments, and dormitories. In short, there is no reason why the College of Charleston cannot renovate this building and continue to use it as a dormitory. By partnering with a developer, the College could successfully pursue historic tax credits to fund the renovation while creating modern accommodations for its students. Additionally, the College of Charleston features of the first undergraduate historic preservation programs in the United States. The school also partners with Clemson University to offer a graduate degree program in historic preservation. With these resources at their disposal, the College needs to be held accountable for the preservation of this important remnant of the city’s recent past.

Why is this important?

College Lodge/The Downtowner is one of the last recognizable mid-century examples of tourism architecture in Charleston. The Downtowner Motor Lodge was a part of a chain of hotels constructed beginning in 1958 (Memphis, TN). The hotel chain is important for bringing the motor lodge concept to urban areas. In the early 1960s, South Carolina businessmen and legislators launched a campaign to turn the state into a destination for tourists. In response, local and national hoteliers raced to construct lodging to accommodate the anticipated uptick in visitors. Charleston’s Downtowner thrived as a result of these efforts. Unfortunately, the hotel chain flamed out relatively quickly. But Charleston’s Downtowner was acquired by the College of Charleston in 1975 for use as a dormitory. While the College has made past attempts to demolish the building, alumni of the school have vigorously protested as the dormitory has become a favorite amongst the student body in the nearly fifty years since its acquisition. With creative thinking and a commitment to College Lodge’s preservation, the building can continue to serve the student body for the next fifty years and beyond.

How it will be delivered

Once the College files an application for demolition with the Charleston Board of Architectural Review, the petition will be submitted to board administrator for inclusion in the public record.



2024-01-22 13:24:44 -0500

Latest Updates:
- In early January, College Lodge was determined eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) by the South Carolina State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). The SHPO acts as a gatekeeper for the NRHP, with the National Park Service having the final authority for listing.
- During the January 10th Board of Architectural Review (BAR) meeting, the decision on the demolition of College Lodge was delayed. The College must submit additional information regarding engineering upgrades to the building. Generally speaking, the College did not make a compelling case for demolition; BAR members noted that most demolitions are supported by extreme deterioration, and College Lodge does not meet that test.
- Once the College submits additional information, a new meeting will be scheduled. Until then, please continue to share the petition as we need all the signatures we can get!

2023-12-09 23:25:08 -0500

1,000 signatures reached

2023-12-07 22:26:29 -0500

500 signatures reached

2023-12-05 16:48:04 -0500

100 signatures reached

2023-12-03 22:18:10 -0500

50 signatures reached

2023-12-03 17:37:05 -0500

25 signatures reached

2023-12-03 12:19:50 -0500

10 signatures reached