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The Official Web Site of the State of South Carolina

Preservation Laws


The National Park Service provides links to federal laws, regulations, standards and guidelines, and executive orders.


The laws, regulations, and executive orders are grouped below by subject matter, and then listed in numerical order by title, chapter and article.


Preservation and Protection of Abandoned and Unmaintained Cemeteries
6-1-35, SC Code of Laws
Authorizes counties and municipalities to preserve and protect any cemetery within their jurisdictions that the counties or municipalities determine has been abandoned. Authorizes counties or municipalities to spend public funds or use inmate labor for these cemeteries.

Destruction or Desecration of Human Remains or Repositories Thereof; Penalties
16-17-600, SC Code of Laws
Provides for penalties of up to $5,000 in fines, and imprisonment for not more than ten years for the vandalism or desecration of burials or grave markers, and lesser penalties for the destruction or injury of fencing, plants, shrubs, or flowers.

Removal of Abandoned Cemeteries
27-43-10 thru 27-43-40, SC Code of Laws
Requires a notification process before an abandoned cemetery is moved, approval by the local governing body, the relocation of the graves to a suitable place, and protection of grave markers through the move. 

Access to Cemeteries on Private Property
27-43-310, SC Code of Laws
This law grants family members and descendants limited access to graves on private property. It requires owners of cemeteries on private property to provide reasonable access to family members and descendants of those buried in the cemetery. The law requires the person wanting access to the cemetery to submit a written request to the property owner.


Trespasses and Unlawful Use of Property of Others Law
16-11-780, SC Code of Laws
This section of state law makes it "unlawful to willfully, knowingly, or maliciously enter upon the lands of another or the posted lands of the state and investigate, disturb, or excavate a prehistoric or historic site for the purpose of discovering, uncovering, moving, removing, or attempting to remove an archaeological resource." The law specifies penalties and civil remedies.

South Carolina Mining Act
48-20-40, SC Code of Laws
Mandates that reclamation plans must include "proposed methods to limit significant adverse effects on significant cultural or historic sites." The State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) consults with the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Division of Mining and Solid Waste Management concerning the effect projects requiring mining permits may have on historic properties listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.

Coastal Zone Management Act of 1976, as amended
48-39-150, SC Code of Laws
The Act created the South Carolina Coastal Council (now DHEC-OCRM) and addressed protection of historical and archaeological properties as well as other environmental issues. Section 48-39-150 of the Act, as amended, requires DHEC-OCRM to consider the "extent to which the development could affect ... irreplaceable historic and archaeological sites of South Carolina’s coastal zone" when deciding whether or not to issue a certification or permit. It covers the 8 coastal counties: Beaufort, Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton, Dorchester, Georgetown, Horry, and Jasper. The State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) consults with DHEC-OCRM and applicants concerning the effect projects requiring DHEC-OCRM certification or permits may have on historic properties listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. 

South Carolina Underwater Antiquities Act of 1991
54-7-610, SC Code of Laws
Makes the SC Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology responsible for managing and protecting the state’s underwater archaeological resources on behalf of the State Budget and Control Board. Establishes ownership of submerged archaeological and paleontological resources, and a system of licenses to conduct activities affecting these resources including disposition. Establishes penalties for disturbing sunken warships in state waters that may contain human remains.

Protection of State Owned or Leased Historic Properties
60-12-10 thru 60-12-90, SC Code of Laws
Establishes a review process for projects involving historic properties owned or leased by the State of South Carolina that are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The law encourages the preservation of state-owned and leased National Register properties by establishing a consultation process between state agencies and the State Historic Preservation Office to incorporate historic preservation concerns with the needs of state projects.

Hazardous Waste Management Facilities
61-104, SC Code of Regulations
The regulation stipulates that hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facilities will be prohibited in areas where they will “adversely impact an archaeological site as determined by the State Historic Preservation Officer and the State Archaeologist or a historic site as determined by the State Historic Preservation Officer.”


Special Local Property Tax Assessments for Rehabilitated Historic Properties and Low and Moderate Income Rental Property
4-9-195 and 5-21-140, SC Code of Laws
12-120 to 12-126, SC Code of Regulations (amended in 2011)
Allows counties and municipalities to adopt ordinances providing special property tax assessments to encourage the rehabilitation of historic buildings. Local governments may place a temporary ceiling on the assessed value of a historic building that has been rehabilitated. Project work must be approved as appropriate for the historic property by a reviewing authority and meet a minimum expenditure threshold set by the local government between 20 and 100 percent of the fair market value.

Capital Project Sales Tax Act
4-10-300 thru 4-10-380, SC Code of Laws
Proceeds from the tax may be used for cultural, recreational, or historic facilities, or any combination of these facilities.

Local Accommodations Tax Act
6-1-500, SC Code of Laws
One of the uses of the revenues generated by accommodations tax is “tourism-related cultural, recreational, or historic facilities.”

South Carolina Textiles Communities Revitalization Act 
12-65-10 thru 12-65-60, SC Code of Laws
Provides financial incentives for the "rehabilitation, renovation, and redevelopment of abandoned textile mill sites located in South Carolina" – a property tax break or a state income tax credit or corporate license fee credit, equal to 25% of rehabilitation expenses.

South Carolina Historic Rehabilitation Incentives Act
12-6-3535, SC Code of Laws
Creates two state tax credits for historic properties that are a percentage of rehabilitation expenses. Income-producing buildings that qualify for the 20 percent federal income tax for rehabilitated historic buildings qualify for a 10 percent state credit. Buildings occupied by owners as a residence receive a 25 percent state credit. Both credits require reviews of project work to insure it meets the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and have minimum expenditure thresholds.  

South Carolina Conservation Easement Act
27-8-10 thru 27-8-80, SC Code of Laws
Provides a sound legal basis for the donation of conservation easements to preserve the historic, architectural, or archaeological aspects of properties. The law also makes the donation of easements more attractive by requiring the local tax assessor to consider the easement when assessing the value of the property.

South Carolina Conservation Bank Act
48-59-10 thru 48-59-140, SC Code of Laws
The Act sets aside a portion of the Documentary Deed Stamp recording fee into a trust fund for the Conservation Bank. The Bank awards funds to local governments, state agencies and non-profits to purchase interests in lands containing natural resources, wetlands, and/or historic and archaeological sites.  


South Carolina Local Government Comprehensive Planning Enabling Act
6-29-310 thru 6-29-1640, SC Code of Laws
Sets out the requirements for local government comprehensive plans, including the cultural resources element “which considers historic buildings and structures, commercial districts, residential districts, unique, natural, or scenic resources, archaeological, and other cultural resources.” Allows local governments to adopt zoning laws with provisions to protect historic properties and appoint a board of architectural review.  

Guidelines For Implementation Of Certified Local Government (CLG) Program In South Carolina
12-100 – 12-107, SC Code of Regulations
Sets out the requirements for participation in the Certified Local Government program. The CLG program promotes community preservation planning and heritage education through a partnership with the SC Department of Archives and History and the National Park Service that facilitates funding, technical assistance, and training.   


Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism
51-1-60 thru 51-1-90, SC Code of Laws
A duty of the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism is development of a coordinated plan utilizing the state’s resources as a tourist attraction. The plan should include the preservation of the state’s historical heritage by “acquiring and owning, recognizing, marking and publicizing areas, sites, buildings and other landmarks and items of national and statewide historical interest and significance to the history of our State." The Department is authorized to allocate funds to historic sites. 

Pendleton District Historical, Recreational, and Tourism Commission
51-13-510 thru 51-13-545, SC Code of Laws
Creates a historical, recreational and tourism commission for Anderson, Oconee, and Pickens counties. 51-13-545 established the Century Farms Program as a statewide project honoring farm families in South Carolina whose property has been in the same family for one hundred years or more with the presentation of plaques and certificates.

Old Abbeville District Historical Commission
51-13-910 thru 51-13-960, SC Code of Laws
Creates the Old Abbeville District Historical Commission for Abbeville, Greenwood and McCormick counties.

Francis Marion Trail Commission
51-13-2110 thru 51-31-2130, SC Code of Laws
Establishes the Francis Marion Trail Commission and outlines its powers and duties to create a heritage and tourism trail.

Heritage Trust Program 51-17-10 to 51-17-150, SC Code of Laws
Creates the Heritage Trust program in the Department of Natural Resources. The purpose of the program is to inventory, evaluate, and protect the elements considered the most outstanding representatives of the state’s natural and cultural heritage. The Trust accepts easements on significant properties and establishes heritage preserves by acquiring properties through purchase or donation.  

War Between The States Heritage Trust Program
51-18-10 to 51-18-150, SC Code of Laws
Establishes a commission that can acquire properties with historic and cultural value as well as natural value related to the Civil War to set them aside as preserves for the benefit of the public.

Old Exchange Commission
51-19-10, SC Code of Laws
Creates the Old Exchange Commission to oversee the preservation, development and administration of the Old Exchange Building in Charleston.

Archives Act
60-11, SC Code of Laws
Establishes the Department of Archives and History, lists objectives and purposes, and creates the Archives and History Commission. 60-11-30 (6) gives the Department approval over historical markers.

African American Heritage Commission
60-11-110, SC Code of Laws
A continuing resolution adopted in the 2007 legislative session establishes the African American Heritage Commission as an advisory body to the SC Department of Archives and History.

South Carolina Civil War Sesquicentennial Advisory Board
60-11-150 thru 60-11-180, SC Code of Laws
Creates a 22-member board to assist the SC Archives and History Commission to promote a suitable statewide observance of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, assist other organizations with suitable programs and activities, assist in ensuring observances are inclusive and recognize experiences and points of view of all people affected by the Civil War, and provide assistance to the development of programs, projects, and activities that have lasting educational value.

South Carolina Institute of Archeology and Anthropology
60-13, Article 3, SC Code of Laws
Establishes the Institute at the University of South Carolina. Outlines responsibilities of the director, State Archaeologist and State Underwater Archaeologist. Gives the Institute responsibilities to create and maintain the South Carolina Statewide Archeological Site Inventory, provide curation for archaeological collections of the state, consult with and advise the State Historic Preservation Office, and conduct research.


Counties, Buildings and Lands Generally
4-17-20, SC Code of Laws
A county governing body may accept donations or purchase property of historical value “by reason of any war in which the United States of America or any section thereof participated or by reason of any other historical event.” After acquiring, the governing body “shall preserve it and, when it considers it practicable, shall restore it so that the historical value of the property is at its maximum…”

South Carolina Local Government Development Agreement Act
6-31-10 thru 6-31-160, SC Code of Laws
Section 6-31-60 specifies that development agreements must provide a description, where appropriate, of any provisions for the preservation and restoration of historic structures.

Protection of Certain Monuments and Memorials
10-1-165, SC Code of Laws
Prohibits the relocation, removal, disturbance, or alteration of monuments or memorials erected on public property of the State or any of its political subdivisions to the “Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Mexican War, War Between the States, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Persian Gulf War, Native American, or African-American History”. Also prohibits renaming or rededication of a street, bridge, structure, park, preserve, reserve, or other public area of the State or any of its political subdivisions dedicated in memory of or named for any historic figure or historic event.   

South Carolina Scenic Rivers Act of 1989
49-29-10 to 49-29-230, SC Code of Laws
Creates the State Scenic Rivers program and establishes criteria for rivers to receive this designation. Historic and cultural values are included in the criteria, along with scenic, recreational, geological, botanical, fish, and wildlife values.

Highway Beautification And Scenic Routes
57-23-10 thru 57-23-720, SC Code of Laws
Creates the Scenic Highways Committee and designates scenic highways and byways: Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway, Old Sheldon Church Road Scenic Byway, Bohicket Road Scenic Highway, Hilton Head Scenic Highway, Highway 174 Scenic Highway, Long Point Road Scenic Highway, Mathis Ferry Road Scenic Highway, Riverland Drive Scenic Highway, Ft. Johnson Road Scenic Highway, and Ashley River Road Scenic Byway. Criteria includes the scenic, cultural, historic, commercial, and economic significance of the road and area.