The College of Lost Arts

There has been a shift in what people are choosing to study, read this article from CityLab, about a return to a “simpler” times.arts

When Hurricane Hugo hit Charleston, South Carolina, in 1989, its Category 4 winds carried off nearly every roof in town, leaving homes and businesses to be flooded by torrential rain. Not since the earthquake of 1886 had the city seen such devastation, and as residents set about rebuilding, they soon realized they had another problem on their hands: a shortage of artisans trained in skills like masonry, ironwork, and plastering, necessary to repair the city’s famous historic buildings.

These trades had traditionally been passed down by skilled craftsmen to their sons or apprentices, but that old system had long since been fading away. “It was a recognition that a generation of teachers had diminished,” says Mayor Joe Riley, who has been in office since 1975.

The building trades had traditionally been passed down by skilled craftsmen to their sons or apprentices, but that old system was fading away.

Charleston would recover from Hugo, but city leaders, newly appreciative of high-quality craftsmanship, decided that something had to be done to prevent traditional building arts from disappearing for good. So Riley and a group of local preservationists worked together to found a college. It took a while—the first class graduated in 2009—but today the American College of the Building Arts (ACBA) is the only school in the United States to offer a bachelor’s degree in traditional building trades.

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