South Carolina State Arsenal

Also known as: Old Citadel, Embassy Suites Hotel
2 Tobacco St. (Marion Sq.), Charleston, South Carolina


Historic American Buildings Survey, C.O. Greene, Photographer, 1940 EXTERIOR OF COURTYARD.

Photo taken for the Historic American Buildings Survey


Street View 


This early nineteenth-century building was intended as a safeguard against slave uprisings; it was later occupied for 80 years by the South Carolina Military Academy (The Citadel). -- Historic American Buildings Survey

The Old Citadel, which dominates Marion Square in the center of historic Charleston, has three-fold significance: Historically, in its origin as a State Arsenal and stronghold, the building of which in the mid-1820s was prompted by Charleston’s abortive black insurrection of 1822, the Denmark Vesey Plot; Architecturally, because of the exceptional use of semicircular arches of great thickness, unembellished by any architrave moldings around the face, and supported on massive Doric columns, the arches enclosing the rectangular courtyard giving the interior a picturesque quality; Educationally, as the South Carolina Military Academy, liberal arts military college established in 1842 by the State Legislature. Added historical significance come from occupation of the Old Citadel by Federal troops from 1865 to 1881 and from the part Citadel cadets played in the Civil War. The original appearance of the arsenal was a plain, two-story brick building with a wooden parapet. Bricks were laid in English bond, with interior arches enclosing a rectangular courtyard. The original architect was Frederick Wesner. From 1843, when the Citadel occupied the old arsenal, to 1922, when the campus was moved, the original building was twice made higher, and wings were added. These changes heightened the effect of the courtyard by superimposing two tiers of small arches above the original large spans, but the exterior lost its original character when it was altered by architect Edward B. White. Listed in the National Register July 16, 1970. - SCDAH

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on July 16, 1970
Reference number
Areas of significance
Military; Education; Architecture
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
A - Event; C - Design/Construction
Property type
Historic functions
College; Arms storage
Current function
Periods of significance
1850-1874; 1825-1849
Significant years
1830; 1842; 1861

Update Log 

  • January 14, 2019: New photos from Michael Miller
  • August 19, 2014: Photo imported by Michael Miller
  • July 28, 2014: Updated by Michael Miller: Added "Alternate Name", "Description" & "Street Views"
  • July 28, 2014: New Street View added by Michael Miller
  • July 7, 2012: Imported photos from HABS/HAER

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