Walking Among the Dead:

Exploring the Urban Graveyard and Rural Cemetery in Charleston [FS3]

Tuesday, October 2, 2:00–5:30

Fees: APT Conference registrants–$75  PTN IPTW registrants–$125   Includes: snack, transportation, materials  
Capacity: 30
Transportation: Tour bus, departing from Francis Marion Hotel
Dress Code: Casual with sturdy walking shoes
Handicapped Accessibility: Limited
Continuing Education:

Field Session:
Charleston is known as the “Holy City,” famous for its many churches and synagogues resulting from early religious toleration in the Carolina colony. The graveyards of these houses of worship showcase a wonderful variety of markers and materials whose shifting iconography reflects the demographic and social changes in Charleston from the late 17th-20th centuries. A major social shift concerning death and burial occurred in the mid-19th century in Charleston and elsewhere, as urban cemeteries became overcrowded and more and more American families moved their mourning and burial traditions from the church graveyard to the newly emerging park-like rural cemetery. On December 31, 1849, Magnolia Cemetery was established along the picturesque banks of the Cooper River just outside the city limits. This field session will include an illustrated talk, followed by visits to several of Charleston’s urban graveyards as well as Magnolia Cemetery. We will explore the history and development of these two types of burial grounds in Charleston. We will also examine the physical components of each and discuss the conservation challenges associated with these sites.


  • Ashley R. Wilson, AIA, ASID, Graham Gund Architect, Historic Sites Department National Trust for Historic Preservation, Washington, DC, USA
  • Katherine A. Saunders, Associate Director of Preservation, Historic Charleston Foundation, Charleston, SC, USA
  • Frances H. Ford, Architectural Conservator, Richard Marks Restorations, Charleston, SC, USA

Learning objectives:

  • Explore the history and development of the church graveyard and rural cemetery in Charleston and discuss their importance as cultural landscapes.
  • Examine architectural styles, construction techniques and building materials used during the 17th-20th centuries in Charleston graveyards and cemeteries.
  • Discuss conservation strategies and techniques—from stone cleaning, consolidation and repair of graves and markers to iron fencing repair and ancillary buildings associated with the sites.
  • Describe a cemetery documentation project and discuss ongoing challenges to maintaining and protecting rural historic cemeteries.
APT-PTN 2012 is sponsored by: