As the Australian representative in the US-ICOMOS Summer Intern Program, I was sent to Charleston, South Carolina. Besides being a wonderfully beautiful place, the staggering historical significance of the town is still dawning upon me.
Charleston, established in 1670, quickly became a wealthy colony and one of the major ports of America. Great city personages contributed to the declaration of independence, the constitution and the succession from the Union. The first shots of the Civil War were fired here; a war which ended Charleston’s prosperity and slowed redevelopment, much to the benefit of historical fabric.
More recently, Charleston was very early in preservation action and takes great pride in its past.
My project has been to develop a GIS (Geographic Information System) to cover the historic section of town. GIS is a valuable research and documentation tool which allows a spatial comparison of historical time periods and database queries which empower researchers in many ways. That Charleston did not have such a system put it ‘behind-the-game’ in current preservation standard. We hope that the project will open new avenues for the preservation community here and abroad.
Our final goal is to have all information publicly available on-line to allow local and foreign researchers to benefit alike. The project is advancing well and daily we are seeing its potential grow.
Our thanks and congratulations to US ICOMOS: its Summer Internship Program is a wonderful initiative which has enabled many young heritage practitioners worldwide to gain valuable hands-on experience on heritage projects in the USA.