Kitty Robinson on the elliptical, free-flying staircase at Historic Charleston Foundation’s circa-1808 Nathaniel Russell House
Tour Guide: Robinson began her career in preservation as a volunteer docent with HCF’s Festival of Houses.
Later, as Festival director, she expanded the annual event to include garden tours. “The festival today is as popular as ever and remains one of our top educational programs,” she says.
Open Forum: “Public engagement is at the core of what we do,” says Robinson. To that end, HCF has worked to ensure residents are informed by hosting forums led by national thought leaders.
Among the issues that HCF has taken the lead in addressing are sea-level rise...
...hotels and tourism, and transportation.
Renowned architect and urban planner Andrés Duany presents his recommendations of changes to the Board of Architectural Review in 2015.
Robinson with staffers at HCF headquarters this fall
With HCF past board presidents at the annual Past Presidents Luncheon at the Missroon House this year
...with husband Randal, daughter Laura, and grandchildren at the Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau’s June 2011 Golden Pineapple Awards presentation recognizing HCF’s loan exhibit in the New York Winter Antiques Show
At the New York Winter Antiques Show with Martha Stewart, who is a longtime supporter of the Charleston Antiques Show
Robinson and staffers parade for Carolina Day in 2010.
Robinson created the popular Charleston Antiques Show (pictured above in Memminger Auditorium) , and the days-long event has been held every March since 2004. The money raised supports HCF advocacy and preservation programs.
Kitty with John Tecklenburg circa 2004 at an HCF Advocacy Committee meeting
With Congressman Clyburn at a 2016 Urban Land Institute program on historic tax credits for the rehabilitation of historical buildings
With Mayor Riley in 2005 outside HCF headquarters for the Operation Sole+Mate effort to send shoes to war-torn Afghanistan
With Charleston Parks Conservancy’s Harry Lesesne at the reopening of Colonial Lake
Receiving a National Trust for Historic Preservation award in 2009
At the 2014 Women Who IMPACT Preservation fundraiser
Land Trust: Among a consortium of nonprofits to whom Mr. Willie McLeod bequeathed his family land, HCF bought out the other entities and held the property for 18 years, waiting for the right preservation-minded buyer, ultimately the Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission.
Growing Livability: When HCF was founded, preservation was focused primarily in the historic district, in Ansonborough and South of Broad. Under Robinson’s leadership, HCF’s Neighborhood Impact Initiative has extended efforts to the Upper Peninsula, where HCF supported the creation of the Romney Street Urban Garden as a community gathering spot.
“I don’t want the city to lose its character, to be overrun by too many cruise ships, hotels, and visitors. I want Charleston to keep its standards high.” —Kitty Robinson
Impacts Large & Small: Preserving Charleston’s historic character means tackling issues such as gentrification and affordable housing, as residents whose families have lived here for generations are impacted by rising real-estate prices.
HCF has used its Revolving Fund to preserve and restore freedman’s cottages on Lee Street, homes not nearly as grand as Battery beauties but equally vital and significant.
Robinson at the June 2008 ribbon-cutting ceremony of a home on Lee Street, the first Neighborhood Impact Initiative project that was accomplished in partnership with the City of Charleston and Habitat for Humanity
Looking Forward: Robinson may be stepping down, but she’s not slowing down. She’ll remain active with many community boards and committees, including the International African American Museum Board, and she’s excited for what’s next for HCF. “I have great confidence in our Board of Trustees and the expertise of our staff. Their capabilities are enormous,” she says.
With an eye toward the future as much as the past, Historic Charleston Foundation’s outgoing CEO, Katharine “Kitty” Robinson, has redefined preservation for our centuries-old city