South Carolina Picture Project

Waring Historical Library – Charleston, South Carolina

South Carolina  |  SC Picture Project  |  Charleston County Photos  |  Waring Historical Library

Edit This Page  |  Leave A Comment

This Gothic Revival building on the Medical University of South Carolina campus in downtown Charleston may resemble a fortress, but it has always served as a library. Its design, by New York architect J.B. Snooks, may relate to the history of its land and surrounding buildings. The library sits on a former Potter’s Field – or burial ground for the indigent and unknown – which later became the site of an arsenal and artillery factory from 1825 through the Civil War.

Waring Library Porter Gaud

Bill Fitzpatrick of Taylors, 2013 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

In 1879 the Reverend Doctor A. Toomer Porter acquired the arsenal complex for his Episcopal school for boys, Holy Communion Church School. Dr. Porter converted the arsenal’s artillery shed into the school’s chapel – now called St. Luke’s – in 1883 with the help of African-American builder Holten Bell. He later added a military component to the school, which became Porter Military Academy in 1887.

Waring Historical Library

Andy Hunter of North Augusta, 2014 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

A visionary, Dr. Porter not only made use of the remaining arsenal buildings but also added his own structural contributions. In 1894 he oversaw the construction of this library, which he named the Hoffman Library for the Reverend Charles Frederick Hoffman of All Angels Episcopal Church in New York. The Reverend Hoffman donated $7,500 to the project.

Waring Library MUSC

Andy Hunter of North Augusta, 2014 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

When Porter Military Academy merged with the Gaud School for Boys and the Watt School in 1964 to form the present-day Porter-Gaud, the school sold its property to the Medical University of South Carolina and moved across the Ashley River to a 70-acre parcel in West Ashley. The Medical University of South Carolina retained the Hoffman Library as a library and dedicated it to Dr. Joseph I. Waring – an early medical professor, historian, and librarian – in 1969. Today the Waring Historical Library houses special collections and rare books as well as historical papers such as student theses from 1825 through 1860.

Waring Library

Andy Hunter of North Augusta, 2014 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The Waring Historical Library is listed in the National Register as part of the Porter Military Academy, which notes the following:

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, [it] 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.

Waring Historical Library Info

Address: 175 Ashley Avenue, Charleston, SC 29425
GPS Coordinates: 32.786500,-79.947369

Waring Historical Library Map

Waring Historical Library – Add Info and More Photos

The purpose of the South Carolina Picture Project is to celebrate the beauty of the Palmetto State and create a permanent digital repository for our cultural landmarks and natural landscapes. We invite you to add additional pictures (paintings, photos, etc) of Waring Historical Library, and we also invite you to add info, history, stories, and travel tips. Together, we hope to build one of the best and most loved SC resources in the world!

Please Share Your Thoughts!

The South Carolina Picture Project is a volunteer project which earns no profit. We work hard to ensure its accuracy, but if you see a mistake, please know that it is not intentional and that we are more than happy to update our information if it is incorrect. That said, our goal is to create something positive for our state, so please make your comments constructive if you would like them to be published. Thank you!

One Comment about Waring Historical Library

Jim JenkinsNo Gravatar says:
July 28th, 2014 at 2:44 pm

Very unique facility. Thanks for the photos and history.

Waring Historical Library - Related Entries

The Governor Thomas Bennett House

Daniel Cannon House

Roper House in Charleston
Roper House

William Aiken House Upstairs Porches

Wentworth Mansion

Pirate House Church Street
Pirate House

Charleston Harbor Container Ship

St. John's Lutheran Gates

German Fire Company Chalmers Street


Join Us on Facebook
Our 5 Goals
Our Contributors
Add Info
Add Pictures
Search for Pictures
Missing Landmarks


Abbeville ACE Basin Aiken Allendale Anderson Awendaw Bamberg Banks Barns & Farms Barnwell Batesburg-Leesville Beaches Beaufort Beech Island Belton Bennettsville Bishopville Blackville Bluffton Bridges Bygone Landmarks Camden Carnegie Libraries Cemeteries Charleston Charleston Navy Base Cheraw Chester Churches Clemson Clinton Clio Colleges Columbia Conway Cordesville Courthouses Darlington Denmark Dillon Donalds Easley Edgefield Edisto Elloree Fairfax Florence Folly Beach Forests and Nature Preserves Gaffney Garden City Beach Georgetown Glenn Springs Graniteville Greeleyville Greenville Greenwood Greer Hamburg Hampton Hartsville Hemingway Hilton Head Historical Photos Historic Houses Honea Path Hopkins Hunting Island Isle of Palms Jails James Island Johns Island Johnsonville Johnston Kiawah Island Kingstree Lake City Lake Marion Lakes Lancaster Landrum Latta Laurens Lexington Libraries Lighthouses Little River Manning Marion McClellanville McCormick Military Mills Moncks Corner Mountains Mount Carmel Mount Pleasant Mullins Murrells Inlet Myrtle Beach National Register Newberry Ninety Six North Augusta North Charleston North Myrtle Beach Orangeburg Pacolet Parks Pawleys Island Pendleton Pickens Piers Pinopolis Plantations Port Royal Post Offices Ravenel Restaurants Ridge Spring Ridgeway Rivers Roadside Oddities Robert Mills Rock Hill Rockville Rosenwald Schools Salters Saluda Savannah River Site SC Artists SC Heroes of the Alamo Schools Seneca Shrimp Boats Society Hill Spartanburg Sports Springs St. George St. Helena Island St. Matthews Stores Sullivan's Island Summerton Summerville Sumter Sunset Synagogues Town Clocks Trains & Depots Trees Trenton Turbeville Ulmer Union Wadmalaw Island Walhalla Walterboro Waterfalls Water Towers West Columbia Westminster Winnsboro Yemassee York

© 2018, LLC All rights reserved.