The Mayor’s Walled City Task Force is a volunteer collective of individuals, representing a variety of local institutions and agencies, appointed by Charleston Mayor, Joseph Riley Jr., in August of 2005 to further the study, identification, protection, and interpretation of the Walled City of Charleston. Since its inception, this group of fifteen professionals (including historians, curators, archaeologists, engineers, attorneys, and civic leaders) has engaged in a number of educational and research activities. The Task Force is headed by two active members of Charleston’s historic preservation community, co-chairs Katherine Saunders Pemberton and Joseph “Peter” McGee.
As a volunteer body, the Task Force receives no regular monetary appropriations from any city, county, state, or federal agency. On several occasions, however, the City of Charleston has underwritten the expenses of professionally supervised archaeological investigations and contributed to the creation of interpretive installations to mark such sites. The Task Force looks forward to continuing and nurturing its partnership with the City of Charleston, but in the meantime the bulk of the Task Force’s activities rely on the volunteer efforts of its members and their respective institutions who donate their time and resources in order to further its mission.
Since its inception in 2005, the Task Force has sponsored numerous lectures, a living history program and encampment, and “Walk the Walls” events. To date, more than 12,000 Walk the Walls brochures have been distributed, encouraging the public to take a self-guided tour of the early Walled City boundaries, 1704–1730, and related places of interest. Task Force members also continue to research the fortifications and to promote the broader recognition of this significant part of Charleston’s heritage.
An exciting mapping project was begun in 2006 with the City of Charleston to create a digital synthesis of historic maps and plats and the current urban street grid using GIS (Geographic Information System) technology. This process, which will continue to be refined as more historic plats are identified, will greatly enhance our ability to identify the locations of Charleston’s colonial fortifications, and to better predict the location of remnants below the modern cityscape.