Jason Christopher Grismore


The purpose of this thesis is to document, analyze and provide a social and cultural history for twelve public housing communities to better understand the evolution of housing low income residents on the Charleston peninsula below the northern boundary of Mount Pleasant Street. There are five distinct categories of assisted housing, however this thesis primarily focuses on public housing, considered ‘projects.’ Mount Pleasant Street was chosen because it serves as a boundary between the Charleston peninsula and the industrial district of the Upper Peninsula. The survey of each property includes; date of construction, architects, contractors, structure type, building materials, time line of the property, historic and recent photos, its location by address and on Sanborn maps. The five types of assisted housing that are represented on the Charleston peninsula include public housing, or ‘projects’, low income and mixed use/income housing, private section 8 housing, Housing of Urban Development (HUD) funded housing that is not administered by the Charleston Housing Authority and non-profit sponsored housing such as Habitat for Humanity. Refer to Map 1.

No earlier surveys exist for the public housing communities on the peninsula of Charleston, making them a silent, yet important part of the city’s fabric. While there is much written about public housing programs throughout the nation, there is little written comprehensively on the public housing in Charleston. Since the community is known for its high level of historic architecture and preservation, the architecture of the public housing in Charleston is of particular interest. Most of the projects were built for African-American residents. This survey catalogues the housing to determine what Charleston, internationally known as a beautiful city, built for its subsidized housing. Ideally, it should be aesthetically pleasing since aesthetics have a profound effect on pride, confidence and frame of mind.

This thesis discusses public housing projects, throughout the history of Charleston, beginning in the early 18th century and continuing up to the early 21st century. It addresses the social and cultural history of public housing Charleston. Alternative types of public housing, such as scattered site and mix use income communities are also addressed. Analyzing twentieth-century public housing on the Charleston peninsula through survey and comparison, identifying the differences, whether architectural, social or historical of these projects and applying that knowledge to make suggestions to improve existing and future public housing community sites is ultimately the purpose of this thesis.