Lee Valley Tools    Woodworking Newsletter
   Vol. 6, Issue 2
   November 2011
 
   The American College of the Building Arts
 

  American College of the Building Arts
  The façade of the American College of the Building Arts, housed in the old Charleston district jail, dates from the early to mid 19th century.
   
  Interior shot
  An interior shot of the building; the original English iron staircase can be seen
The city of Charleston, South Carolina, is home to numerous historical buildings, some dating back to the late 1600s. When Hurricane Hugo hit the city in September 1989, it severely damaged many of these structures. During the rebuilding phase, it became obvious that there was a shortage of local tradespeople trained to do so. Workers who specialized in the restoration of historical buildings had to be brought in from elsewhere. As a result, concerned preservationists proposed the creation of a local school where the next generation of master craftspeople could be trained. After years of planning, The American College of the Building Arts (ACBA) received its license to award Associate of Applied Science in Building Arts and Bachelor of Applied Science in Building Arts degrees in July 2004. The school welcomed its first students that year and graduated its third class of qualified tradespeople last May.

Curriculum
The college's course of study is a blend of a theory and hands-on experience in the student's trade of choice. "We start at the beginning, with hand tools," says Simeon Warren, dean of the school and professor of architectural stone carving. "There is value in learning how to do something simple, like cutting a board with a hand saw, until it becomes second nature. When the basics are second nature, the more complicated skills become simple. We teach the students to take time to learn the skills. We give students a foundation to become masters of their craft."
 
 
             
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