Porter Military Academy

Also known as: Old U.S. Arsenal, Medical University of S.C.
175-181 Ashley Ave., Charleston, South Carolina


Waring Library

Photo taken by Michael Miller in January 2016

License: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC)

View this photo at panoramio.com


Street Views 


The Porter Military Academy property has served as an early burial ground, a United States Arsenal, a Confederate munitions foundry and weapons factory, a chapel, a school classroom building, and a school library. Its association with major events in Charleston’s early history, the Civil War and Reconstruction, and with important individuals give the property importance on numerous levels. The former artillery shed from the original range of the Arsenal dates from the late 1820s and was renovated into a Chapel, presently known as St. Luke’s, in the 1880s through the vision of the founder of Porter Military Academy, Dr. A. Toomer Porter, and the work of Holten Bell, a prominent African-American builder. Much of the nineteenth century brick wall surrounding the complex is the work of the latter contractor. Colcock Hall, a two-story brick building constructed in 1862, is one of two known buildings in South Carolina constructed by the Confederate government for military uses. The Waring Library, formerly known as the Hoffman Library, is a unique example in South Carolina of an octagonal, Gothic Revival edifice designed by a prominent New York architect, John Butler Snook, for the Porter Military Academy with the influence of its donor, Reverend Charles Frederick Hoffman, a leading clergyman in New York City was built in 1894. The whole site in its present form is also significant for its association with Dr. Porter, a leading clergyman and educator in nineteenth century Charleston and an important figure in its antebellum and postbellum society. Listed in the National Register June 21, 1996. - SCDAH

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on June 21, 1996
Reference number
Architectural styles
Mid 19th Century Revival: Exotic Revival; Late 19th and 20th Century Revival: Late Gothic Revival; Other architectural type; Octogon Mode
Areas of significance
Architecture; Military; Social History
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
A - Event; B - Person; C - Design/Construction
Property type
Historic functions
School; Library; Arms storage; Military facility; Religious structure
Current functions
College; Library; Research facility; Museum; Religious structure; Communications facility
Periods of significance
1850-1874; 1875-1899; 1900-1924
Significant years
1862; 1884; 1894
Number of properties
Contributing buildings: 3
Contributing structures: 1
Non-contributing buildings: 1

Update Log 

  • January 26, 2016: New Street View added by Michael Miller
  • January 25, 2016: Photo imported by Michael Miller
  • August 19, 2014: Photo imported by Michael Miller
  • July 28, 2014: Updated by Michael Miller: Added "Description" & "Street View"
  • July 28, 2014: New Street View added by Michael Miller

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