Historic Preservation and Community Planning
Zach Liollio is forging old territory. Growing up in a family of architects, he’s always been interested in the marriage of technique and art with academics. It makes sense that – as a historic preservation and community planning major and a practicing blacksmith – he’s making tools of the past as he studies for the future.
Zach transferred to the College his sophomore year to take advantage of what he regards as one of the best undergraduate programs in historic preservation in the U.S. “I’ve loved it ever since. My favorite part of the program has been learning about historic building materials, and how to restore a building using period specifications and original material.”
He also works part time at an 18th-century plantation, repairing old hand tools and working with historic wrought iron. And, Zach has his own shop. He has been able to apply much of his hands-on experience to coursework at the College, to the extent that he’s even made some teaching tools for professors to use in class, such as a 19th-century wrought iron strap hinge.
Internships, which are required for the major, allow students to dig into their specific interests, and those can range from preservation law to sustainability, or to more hands-on work. In Zach’s case, he interned at the Nevada Northern Railway, a National Historic Landmark. He arrived as a blacksmith, but was able to gain experience in mechanical work as well. “I became a diesel locomotive repairman. I did a lot of welding, pipe fitting, track and steam-boiler maintenance, none of which I’d been able to do here in my regular job.
Now back home, Zach is thinking about his future and the need for specialized inspectors at historic sites – people who understand old forts, plantations and railways, for instance, who can keep them safe for employees and visitors alike.
“Historic preservation is wide open with opportunities for students who are both detail oriented and creative.”
❱❱ Offered through the Department of Art and Architectural History, this program’s interdisciplinary curriculum gives students the flexibility to take coursework in historic preservation, architectural and urban design, planning, and architectural and urban history.
❱❱ Downtown Charleston, internationally recognized for community-based preservation, is an ideal location for hands-on learning. Recent internships include work with the City of Charleston’s planning and cultural affairs departments, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Gibbes Museum of Art.