BVL Historic Preservation Research

We know every building has a story, and we are committed to unearth as many stories as possible.

Welcome to BVL Historic Preservation Research. Headquartered in historic Charleston, South Carolina, our company's goal is to encourage the appreciation for and understanding of historic properties through both the architectural fabric and cultural memory. As an architectural historian, I am passionate about studying the built environment while showcasing the who, what, when and how of each historic resource. From an abandoned antebellum dwelling to a renovated nineteenth-century warehouse, a former family estate now subdivided to a recently purchased colonial townhome, every building, every landscape has a story; a story of the people, events and the history that surround its existence - and I am eager to lead you on that investigative journey!

Mission: To understand and preserve historic places through researching and revealing the history that shapes them

Historic Preservation & Community Planning at College of Charleston

HPCP student Cara Quigley on a site visit at 57 Anson Street, beginning a new research project for her internship with professor LaVelle-Tulla. Cara explains, "The first step is photographing the site so we know what we’re up against and can make a good comparison when we start diving into Sanborn maps, archives, and deeds." BVL Historic Preservation Research

BVL HPR turns FIVE! Thank you all for the support over this half decade! We are honored to tell the story of our nation's historic buildings, and cannot wait to showcase more in this next year.

Historic Charleston Foundation

Our “History Harvest” for Mosquito Beach yesterday was a big success. Over 100 people came out to share their stories of this important place and to enjoy the amazing food and activities at the Seashore Farmers Lodge. We even got to see a Mosquito Beach vintage T shirt from 1986.

Loved sharing the business journey of BVL HPR with College of Charleston's Higdon Student Leadership Center last night!

Mosquito Beach project seeks to highlight Charleston history

Honored to be creating the National Historic District nomination for this project The Historic Charleston Foundation will document the history of Mosquito Beach using the stories, photographs, documents and memorabilia of those who remember it.

BVL Historic Preservation Research

Of all the times we have flown in and out of Newark Airport Gate A17...this is something we never knew. An American flag flies over Gate 17 of Terminal A at Newark Liberty International Airport - departure gate of United 93.

Thank you Newark International Airport (EWA) - Newark New Jersey & the Flight 93 National Memorial for honoring our heroes of Flight 93 not just today, but every day. "Let's roll."

Architectural inventory of Mosquito Beach, James Island happening NOW. Hired by Mosquito Beach residents & Historic Charleston Foundation, BVL HPR will be researching and documenting Mosquito Beach as a potential historic district.

Mosquito Beach was a popular gathering space for the area’s black citizens from 1920s-1970s. Prohibited from going to Folly Beach during the age of segregation, Mosquito Beach residents constructed a dance pavilion, boardwalk and other entertainment venues along the marshes of Kings Flats. It became a safe place for citizens all over the state to swim, dance, eat and thrive. In 2018, many of these buildings are still maintained and used by the same families, who are ready to revive & honor this important strip.

{📸 by BVL HPR intern & Historic Preservation & Community Planning at College of Charleston junior Caroline Gesell}

Historic Preservation & Community Planning at College of Charleston

Professor LaVelle Tulla BVL Historic Preservation Research and HPCP intern Caroline Gesell are documenting Mosquito Beach, located in the Sol Legare community as part of a project to preserve this nationally historic site.

This 1837 Charleston Mansion Is On The Market For The First Time In Five Generations

Take a look inside one of BVL HPR’s recent historic research investigations. One of the oldest houses on East Battery in Charleston is for sale. This stunning antebellum mansion hasn’t been on the market in five generations. Now, the 7,500-square-foot, six-bedroom home is currently listed by William Means Real Estate for $6.95 million, and we can all get a peek inside. The...

This Historically Significant Property in Downtown Charleston Is on the Market for $2.5 Million

Great write up by Southern Living on a BVL HPR client! A little Water Street "cottage" with a BIG story. Rachel McAdams stayed in one of the property’s smaller units while filming The Notebook.

Hot off the press!!

“J. Slocum stopped here while sailing around the world, 1898.” It’s been years since a {living 👻} human has visited Randolph’s Hall nineteenth century wooden observatory (closed to the public for decades) at the College of Charleston. It was built for students to study the stars and today, retains graffiti/signatures that span the 1800s & 1900s, views like you could not believe & energy unlike any other: #bvlhistoricpreservationresearch’s investigation of the National Historic Landmark’s dome on the blog!



Had so much fun talking to Preservation Maryland about all things CHARLESTON. Check out the latest episode of PreserveCast featuring BVL HPR'S Brittany V. Lavelle Tulla!

New episode! What comes to mind when you think of historic Charleston, SC? Although it is viewed as a total preservation success, it's not without its challenges. Today's guest, Brittany LaVelle Tulla of BVL Historic Preservation Research, discusses her unique approach to blending Charleston's growing tourist popularity and living life as a local. #preservecast

By far one of our favorite Preservation Society markers to write (but we may be a little bias!) From 19th century tavern to 20th century tenement to 21st century art gallery, that is a bittersweet wrap on the newly restored No. 30 State Street, Charleston. Check out her before and after transformation! (Look closely at the BEFORE - can you see where the original arches, covered in the 1890s, are trying to reveal themselves?)

31 Days of Action for Preservation | National Trust for Historic Preservation


National Trust for Historic Preservation This Preservation Month, let's celebrate and explore historic places, starting with one action a day through the month of May. We can’t wait to see what you accomplish!

Love the smell of fresh report, but it is always so bittersweet! This one in particular...

From the home and workplace of a nationally-recognized black craftsman in Reconstruction Charleston to a luxury historic “cottage” during the Charleston Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s, the Tobias Scott House is an important contributor to the overall ambiance and legacy of Charleston’s historic district...and one we will never forget.

Never before was the residence, workshop and storefront of formerly-enslaved feathered-fan maker Tobias Scott identified...until now. Scott's fans are now on display at the The Charleston Museum and his story from slavery to entrepreneurial success (he sent all of his children to college in the 1870/1880s, and in 1901, there is evidence of President Roosevelt commissioning a fan during his visit to Charleston) is forever documented through the history of No. 17 Water Street.


Forgotten 1927 Sottile Theatre Wall Decor Discovered

On Monday, April 23, 2018, Brittany V. Lavelle Tulla of BVL Historic Preservation Research was called on site as College of Charleston - Sottile Theatre Director of Operations Anja Kelly discovered portions of the Sottile Theatre’s original 1927 interior wall décor stored in bubble wrap in the theater’s basement. These elements were most likely taken down during a renovation decades ago, packaged and forgotten…until now. The above video follows as we unveil the forgotten elements for the first time since their removal. We live for experiences like this!!

When Albert Sottile completed construction of the Gloria Theatre, now known as College of Charleston's Sottile Theatre, in 1927, local newspapers described its interior as "on par with the finest theaters in the south." Inspired by Italian classicism, Sottile adorned his theater with replicas of famous statuaries and reliefs found in Rome and Florence and paintings that captured ancient Roman mythology. Unfortunately, many of these original elements were covered, removed or lost during renovations in the mid and late twentieth century to modernize the theater.

The discovery of these reliefs comes sevens years after the College of Charleston discovered the theater’s original murals done by Italian artists from Manhattan beneath sound boards added to the theatre in the mid century.

The history of the Sottile Theatre, original photographs and details on the uncovered murals can be found on our blog:

Here's to hoping the Sottile Theatre can secure the funds to not only restore these amazing 1927 elements, but also display them in the way they were intended, for all to see.

On Monday, April 23, 2018, BVL Historic Preservation Research was called on site as Director of Operations Anja Kelly discovered portions of the Sottile Thea...

40 Under 40: People #SavingPlaces | National Trust for Historic Preservation

This morning, BVL Historic Preservation Research is thrilled to announce that its very own Brittany V. Lavelle Tulla was named to the National Trust for Historic Preservation's 40 Under 40: People Saving Places list!

The inaugural list celebrates 40 movers and shakers—all age 40 and under—who are expanding our nation’s view of what it means to save places and tell America’s full history. Honoring movers and shakers who are expanding our view of what it means to save places. Meet the 40.

New marker = New story! Makes the heart sing every time we catch someone reading our white Preservation Society of Charleston historic markers!

{Working with PSC to make sure each marker is interesting, accurate and informative is one of our favorite duties. If you walk by a white marker, take a few seconds. The places we pass by every day have the most incredible stories.}

Anyone notice the new signage at BVL HPR project, 1056 King?! Just one of the many elements in reviving this beauty's 1940s character.

In 1942, employees of Albert Sottile's Pastime Amusement Compny nicknamed their company's new, but unfinished, large movie house "Big Bertha." The inside of the movie house was unfortunately never complete due to WWII, at which time the US Navy took ownership. She was never again referred to as Big B...until now!

Abandoned and forgotten for so long, 1056 King Street will temporarily house Big Berta Storage on the second floor. The sign reflects her original name, as well as the size, location, composition (including lighting) and font of the Edens Food Stores sign on the building in the late 1940s. Big Bertha is here to stay.

Storied 1780 home on market for the first time in 100 years for $1.85M

Loved showcasing the history of this gem on Tradd Street - an incredibly unique property for anyone wishing to live in Charleston's historic district. Your time is now, 12 Tradd!!! Built in 1780, the residence has an extraordinary past, including elements of local preservationist history.

BVL Historic Preservation Research

The desk of an architectural historian after five snow days & two completed reports. WOW, 2018!!

BVL Historic Preservation Research

BVL Historic Preservation Research's cover photo

With most archives closed, we've taken this week as a great time to sit down and write the amazing histories we have uncovered over the last few weeks. Yes, the physical research and onsite evaluations are often the most exciting parts to any historic architectural investigation, but each place's story doesn't TRULY come to life until the writing begins. We look forward to uncovering the unique stories of more historic places in 2018!

Recently completed a lot by lot investigation of Legare Street south of Tradd to identify ALL dwellings (both still standing or no longer with us) that occupied the street prior to 1790 - and our conclusion? Of the 14 dwellings that stood on Legare prior to 1790, approximately half are still standing. HALF survived AT LEAST 227 years.

South Carolina Department of Archives and History

Honored to work with this program every day!

SCDAH News: South Carolina is home to more than 1,500 sites listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Learn more about the program in this recent article from the The Post and Courier #SCHistory #NRHPSC

Current investigations happening @ The Jacob Kelley House Museum in Hartsville, SC.🍂 Current belief is it was built by Jacob Kelley between 1820 & 1830... but exactly WHEN this beauty was erected & how long before did the Kelley’s own and settle on the land is still a mystery...for now!

We are thrilled to announce that 1056 King Street in Charleston, SC has officially been listed on the National Register of Historic Places - NPS!

{ Intended to be Albert Sottile’s last great theater, 1056 King Street was near completion as America entered WWII, which halted its construction. At this time, the US Navy leased Sottile’s half-finished theater, renamed it the Sixth Naval District Training Aids Library and used it to train thousands of sailors in Charleston’s port and Navy base through the use of educational videos and movies before their deployment abroad. Through these videos, sailors learned Japanese in this building, how to engage in submarine warfare, how to shoot a gun, swim and even how to tie their uniform. It was the largest of its kind in the Navy’s inventory, both stateside and abroad, and without its service and the service of those who entered this building, Charleston's history and the history of the United States would never be the same. Today the building serves as home to Redux Contemporary Art Center}

Happening now: an investigation into the early history of every single lot on Legare St. between Tradd & South Battery to uncover EXACTLY how the south end of Legare looked in the 1780s.

Last week, we attended a private reception at Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest after speaking to the Southeast Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians - SESAH in Lynchburg, VA - and was absolutely blown away by the architecture of this part of western Virginia.

{We can never resist city blocks full of mini Second Empires!!}

BVL HPR with the amazing ladies of The South Carolina Historical Society at last night’s joint Young Preservationist of Charleston event! Beer tasting, Charleston’s German history and always good conversation with a dynamic group of young citizens who care about our historic city.

Took a little trip down memory lane to snap photographs of a few past BVL HPR projects for our new website (coming soon!) It is amazing to look back and see how intertwined the stories are of these diverse and scattered buildings. Charleston's history may run deep, but EVERY building can be connected to another.

Got to know the eighteenth & nineteenth century residents of our newest project site a little bit better this week. #HUMANIZEthehistory

ON THE HUNT: Rainy day research in the ye old deed room to uncover the historic owners of #bvlhistoricpreservationresearch's newest #charleston historic district project site - and as always, ob. sessing. over the perfection that is 1700s penmanship!!

Stop #10, the final stop: Nashville, TN!

Thanks to a National Trust for Historic Preservation Preservation magazine article {link below}, we knew to go straight to Acme Feed & Seed once we hit Broadway. We spent the night dancing to the most amazing local musicians in this 1890s gem before heading back to Charleston the next morning through Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

10 states in 6 days and over a dozen of America's Main Streets (both active and abandoned) visited.

We must protect our Main Streets, for without them, America is lost. #MAINSTREETUSA


Stop #9: NebraskaCity Nebraska! After bisecting the cornfields of Nebraska from Colorado and touring the historic neighborhoods of the capital of Lincoln, we spent the night in Lied Lodge & Conference Center - a hotel owned by the Arbor Day Foundation which sits right smack in the middle of the 260 acres of National Historic Landmark Arbor Day Farm.

Not only did we get the most amazing Nebraska sunset show after a storm, but from our room we could see of the c. 1855 J. Sterling Morton estate. Morton was the Secretary of Agriculture under President Cleveland, and the founder of America's Arbor Day in 1872 when he planted 1million trees in Nebraska. Yes, Mr. Morton. YES. 🌲🌲🌲#Americathebeautiful

Charleston, it is always so great to see how many people take time out of their holiday on the 4th to stand and listen to the Declaration of at the same spot many Charlestonians first heard the words in August of 1776. Another great Independence Day!

{What an honor it was for BVL HPR to read those words on behalf of the Charleston World Heritage Coalition. We had page 2...and we really let King George III have it.}

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