The Citadel wins approval to demolish PT Barracks
Charleston's Board of Architectural Review (BAR) narrowly approved The Citadel's application to demolish Padgett-Thomas Barracks yesterday. The 4-3 vote by the BAR clears the way for The Citadel to replace the deteriorating building with a modern barracks that is essentially identical in appearance to the 1922 campus landmark but will meet all building, fire and safety codes.
The action brings to a close a concerted effort by The Citadel to convince the historical preservation board that PT Barracks is not safe for habitation and cannot be restored to in a way that will not destroy the appearance of the building.
Replacement of PT Barracks is part of a long-range campus renewal plan that was stalled by a Charleston County law that says a building on the peninsula that is 75 years old cannot be demolished without approval from the BAR. PT Barracks, built in 1922, was the first barracks constructed when the campus moved from Marion Square to the current location.
Engineers have discovered that the building sits on porous soil that would "liquify" in the event of an earthquake. Furthermore, the steel rods forming the skeleton of PT are deteriorating and pieces of concrete have been falling away from the supporting rods creating a hazard for cadets living inside the barracks.
BAR chairman Charles Duell said he had received more than 100 letters on the issue, most of them supporting The Citadel's request to demolish PT Barracks. Those letter-writers included Governor Jim Hodges, Charleston Mayor Joe Riley and Senators John Drummond and Glen McConnell who confirmed that the $24 million the state has already approved for the replacement of PT Barracks will not be increased to cover the higher cost of restoration. Many of the letters and comments during the meeting came from alumni who had lived in PT Barracks and offered personal testimony about unsafe conditions in the building.
For more details about the BAR hearing,
see the article in the
Charleston Post & Courier.