Charleston, SC

Old City Jail


The Old City Jail, constructed in several stages between 1796 and 1859, was used as a jail until 1939. The jail stood unoccupied for decades until it was acquired by the School of the Building Arts, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the teaching of historic building trades such as blacksmithing and traditional masonry techniques. The jail received a grant under the U.S. Department of the Interior Save America’s Treasures Program. SGH conducted a condition assessment of the structure and developed a rehabilitation plan for the building.

SGH performed a comprehensive condition assessment and developed preliminary options for the restoration and reuse of the building.

We determined that long-term water leakage and insect infestation led to deterioration of building components, including roof and floor framing, and the interiors. A combination of lateral thrust from the failing brick arch floor system and stresses from the corrosion of iron beams and bars built into the walls resulted in structural deterioration, masonry wall cracking, and deflection of cell block walls.

SGH designed emergency stabilization for portions of the structure in danger of collapse. We then designed long-term structural repairs including new wood-framed floors, strengthening of roof trusses, and the stabilization of exterior masonry walls.

Project Summary



Completion Date
Repair & Rehabilitation | Preservation
Structures | Building Enclosures
School of the Building Arts, Inc.
Specialized Capabilities
Repair & Strengthening | Condition Assessments | Preservation

Key team members

Charles Russo
Charles Russo
Senior Principal
Michael Brainerd
Michael Brainerd
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