The Charleston Parks Conservancy and the City of Charleston are celebrating the completion of a $5.9 million renovation to one of Charleston’s iconic public spaces. After more than a year of construction, upgrades and improvements, Colonial Lake is once again teeming with visitors enjoying this newly restored park and gardens.
The public is invited to a grand reopening celebration on Saturday, June 4. The event will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., with Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg on hand for a ribbon cutting at 11 a.m. Part of the Piccolo Spoleto Festival, the Colonial Lake celebration will include a variety of entertainment and music, activities for children and food trucks. Conservancy volunteers will provide a horticultural tour of the park’s new gardens, and visitors will be able to learn about Colonial Lake’s history as well as details of the park renovation.
“Colonial Lake has always been a special place in Charleston. However, we saw that this space could be even more lovely and help us set a new standard for beauty in the public realm,” said Darla Moore, founder and chair of the Charleston Parks Conservancy Board of Directors. “We’re thrilled with the result of this wonderful partnership with the City of Charleston and the hard work of so many dedicated volunteers.”
The Colonial Lake renovation project broke ground in January 2015 after years of planning, fundraising and design. Major support from The Beach Company -- along with significant contributions from The Speedwell Foundation, Pathfinder Foundation, Alison and Thomas Schneider, and the Historic Charleston Foundation -- helped the Conservancy contribute nearly $1.5 million in private funding to the overall $5.9 million project cost.
As the construction project was nearly complete in early spring, the Conservancy and its Park Angel volunteers began their work in the gardens surrounding the lake. The Conservancy has adding 20,000 plants to the park thanks to help from individuals, groups and community members who have been digging in the dirt for weeks.
Other highlights of the park include additional open space and more shade trees as well as new sidewalks and expanded space for walking and jogging. The new park has nearly three times more benches and a seat wall along Rutledge Avenue that dramatically expands the amount of space for visitors to sit and admire the lake and gardens.
Some of the project’s most complex work involved creating an improved water control system so that the water within the Colonial Lake basin efficiently required flows in and out from its source, the Ashley River. In addition, repairs to the 140 year-old tabby seawall required significant research to develop the oyster shell/sand mixture to closely match the original mixture, with consultation from the Scottish Lime Centre Trust and others to ensure that the repairs will last for another 140 years.
"This major beautification of Colonial Lake is another example of the excellence we are able to achieve through strong public-private partnerships with outstanding organizations like the Charleston Parks Conservancy,” said Charleston Mayor John J. Tecklenburg. “We are deeply grateful to the Conservancy for all its fine work on this project, and join them today in welcoming our fellow residents of Charleston to a Colonial Lake that's cleaner and more beautiful than ever before."
About the Charleston Parks Conservancy
The Charleston Parks Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring the people of Charleston to connect with their parks and together create stunning public places and a strong community. The Conservancy opens doors to individuals and organizations in Charleston wanting to engage with their parks and green spaces in a kaleidoscope of positive ways. With the help of its Park Angels, the Conservancy improves, enhances, and invigorates these spaces, making Charleston even better, stronger, and more successful. For more information about or to support the Charleston Parks Conservancy, please visitwww.charlestonparksconservancy.org.