Colonial Dames’ well-earned award

  • Posted: Monday, May 20, 2013 6:45 a.m.

It’s as if the Powder Magazine on Cumberland Street was never expected to survive. The tiny 1713 structure was designed and built so that its roof would blow off should the gunpowder stored inside ignite.

The Powder Magazine stands today as a museum because, fortunately, that never happened, and also because the National Society of Colonial Dames in the State of South Carolina has made sure that it survives.

The organization bought the museum in 1902 for $1,000 after The News and Courier published a plea to save relics from the city’s Colonial past.

The Colonial Dames continue to care for the building as a meeting place and museum.

It has been no small task. A decade ago, it required $400,000 to fix a leaky roof and deal with timbers in the walls and foundation that had rotted away years before.

So it is fitting that the Preservation Society of Charleston last week awarded the Colonial Dames its coveted Susan Pringle Frost Award for Lifetime Achievement in Historic Preservation.

It is also fitting that the award be given during the building’s 300th year.

Charleston’s story, as told by its buildings, is skimpy regarding Colonial times and regarding its early military history.

The Powder Magazine, while it served as such for only a few decades, has been preserved, thanks to the Colonial Dames, to tell that part of the city’s history.

It’s a chapter worth telling, and the South Carolina Colonial Dames are worthy of the city’s thanks.

Comments { } is pleased to offer readers the enhanced ability to comment on stories. We expect our readers to engage in lively, yet civil discourse. does not edit user submitted statements and we cannot promise that readers will not occasionally find offensive or inaccurate comments posted in the comments area. Responsibility for the statements posted lies with the person submitting the comment, not If you find a comment that is objectionable, please click "report abuse" and we will review it for possible removal. Please be reminded, however, that in accordance with our Terms of Use and federal law, we are under no obligation to remove any third party comments posted on our website. Read our full Terms and Conditions.