1897 Trolley Barn Rehabilitation

A 1938 photo of the "trolley barn" on Meeting Street.

A 1938 photo of the “trolley barn” on Meeting Street. From the collections of the Charleston Archive at CCPL.

In recent lectures about the old street car and trolley systems that plied the streets of urban Charleston from 1866 to 1938, I’ve been happy to mention the “barn” built on upper Meeting Street in 1897 to house the electrified trolleys that went into service that year. This cavernous building (27,000 square feet) was used to house and repair the trolleys (and later, diesel buses) until the 1960s, but it’s been in a sad state of decline for several decades.

As you may have read in the Charleston Post and Courier recently, the old “trolley barn” is now being rehabilitated, and will soon be reborn as the principal workshop space for the American College of the Building Arts (ACBA). Coincidently, this weekend the ACBA will host its annual Masters of the Building Arts Festival, which will include a preview of the plans for the renovation and future use of this historic structure. In addition, I’ll be following that discussion with an overview of Charleston’s old street railway systems, including a bit of history about the genesis of the 1897 “trolley barn.”

If you missed my recent presentations on this fun topic, then I invite you to attend my free lecture on “The Rise and Fall of Charleston’s Trolleys,” in the Drawing & Drafting Studio inside the Old Charleston Jail (21 Magazine Street, 29401) at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 11th, 2015.

The ACBA’s “Masters of the Building Arts Festival” includes many other interesting free events this weekend, so I encourage everyone to check out their online event calendar. I hope to see you there!