A special collection of building-related books and materials is being specially preserved thanks to a $9,400 grant from the Daughters of the American Revolution.

The grant, nominated by the Fort Sullivan chapter of the DAR, will create the “Daughters of the American Revolution Special Collections Room” at the American College of the Building Arts downtown.

The collection will house 600 books, historic tool and furnishing catalogs, and other materials related to building and decorative arts, some of which date to 1724.

“A lot of them are rare,” said Jennifer France, librarian at the college. “There are materials that go back to the Revolutionary War, and even further back.”

The materials are now in archival boxes in closed storage to protect them from high temperatures and humidity. Renovations at the college began in May with the goal of creating a climate-controlled place to house the materials, said France.

She explained that temperature plays a pivotal role in preserving paper. For every 15 degrees over 70 degrees Fahrenheit, the deterioration rate of paper doubles.

The American College of the Building Arts is in the old Charleston Jail on Magazine Street, originally built in 1802. The building is monstrous, old and made of stone and brick, with iron bars over the windows. Underneath each window is a streak of orange where rain has caused rust from the iron to leak down the building’s side.

The college trains artisans in six specializations in the traditional building arts: forged architectural iron, masonry, plaster, stone, carpentry and timber framing.

“We are fortunate that they (DAR) have chosen to assist us in preserving these rare and historical books, periodicals and materials so integral to the instruction in the classic building arts,” said Colby M. Broadwater III, president of the college, in a statement.

“We felt that the ACBA’s library was a worthy nominee for the grant program because the school exemplifies the mission and objectives of the NSDAR,” said Nancy Mikell, past regent with the Fort Sullivan chapter of the DAR.

The college is hoping the room designated for the collection, an add-on to its library on the second floor, will ready to open by Sept. 12.

The collection will be open to students at the College of the Building Arts and the public.


Earlier versions of this story incorrectly described how the grant was funded and nominated.