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New one-of-a-kind college opens and offers degrees in traditional building arts

Aug. 1, 2005
Swamp Fox
CHARLESTON, S.C., Aug. 19 /PRNewswire/ — The historic bell on the grounds
of McLeod Plantation will ring this morning when the American College of the
Building Arts welcomes its inaugural class of students during its first
Convocation. The ceremony will be held at McLeod Plantation at 10:00 AM. The
ceremony will also celebrate the opening of the newest college in South
Carolina and the first ever in American history to be licensed to offer a
degree in one of the traditional building arts.

With the successful completion of their studies, which include the liberal
arts general education requirements (English, Math, History, etc.), students
of the College will receive either an Associate’s or a Bachelor’s Degree in
Applied Sciences. Students will major in one of the six traditional building
trades: architectural metal, architectural stone, carpentry, masonry, plaster
working, or timber framing.

David AvRutick, President of the American College of the Building Arts,
will welcome America’s first building artisan baccalaureate candidates and
guests on the morning of the 19th and lead the ceremony. Charleston Mayor
Joseph P. Riley, Jr., recognized as a national leader in preservation and
urban planning, will also address the gathering.

Mayor Riley said, “We are extremely proud to have the American College of
the Building Arts in Charleston and to welcome their first incoming class of
students. As one of the great centers for preservation in America, Charleston
is the perfect home for the College and will serve as a wonderful textbook for
the students. We are thrilled to be home of the first college of its kind in

In addition to speeches by Mayor Riley and President AvRutick, Master
Artisan Jean Wiart will offer the Keynote Address as the representative of the
building artisan community; a tradition the College plans to follow every
year. A graduate of the French program, Les Compagnons du Devoir, which has
been continuously teaching the building arts for over 600 years, Wiart has
received several prestigious awards for his work in France and has also been
highly praised for projects in New York and throughout the United States,
including the restoration of the torch for the Statue of Liberty. Wiart, the
founder of the American extension of Les Metalliers Champenois, S.A., of
Reims, France, specializes in historic preservation and select metal

Wiart has stated, “I am extremely flattered to be the keynote speaker and
building artisans’ representative at the first Convocation at the American
College of the Building Arts. The need for the graduates of the College is
something I know all too well and am very excited about helping launch this
important program.”

Following the Keynote Address, another new tradition will be unveiled, the
Splitting of the Stone. This ceremony, deeply rooted in history, consists of a
stone being split in half using only a plug and metal feathers. This process
reveals the true nature of the stone for the first time and represents the
opening of a new era and all its new possibilities. This dramatic event will
be a symbol of what the new College will offer both its students and the
nation. President AvRutick will lead this ceremony and be joined by a number
of other individuals credited for helping create the College. Participants
include: Philip Simmons, Master ironworker and Charleston’s national treasure,
who is considered to be the Inspirational Founder of the College; John Paul
Huguley, founder of the School of the Building Arts - the College’s
predecessor organization; Nancy Hawk, Chair of the College’s Board of
Directors; Simeon Warren, the College’s Associate Dean for Strategic Planning,
as the representative of the faculty; and a student representing the entering

After the Stone Ceremony, Nancy Hawk will declare the academic year of the
College open. At that time, another student representative will ring the
McLeod Plantation bell, which has been mounted in one of the major live oak
trees on the plantation for decades, to signify the opening of the American
College of the Building Arts.

A reception under the live oaks, hosted by President and Mrs. AvRutick,
will follow the Convocation events. Media are warmly invited to attend the
Convocation Ceremony and reception.

About The American College of the Building Arts
The American College of the Building Arts provides a focused liberal arts
education and trains new generations of artisans in the traditional building
arts to foster exceptional craftsmanship and encourage the preservation,
enrichment and appreciation of our architectural heritage. The College
operates in three locations: the historic Old City Jail in downtown
Charleston, the Noisette Campus at the former Charleston naval base and the
future permanent home being created on the nearby 330+-year-old McLeod
Plantation. All three sites offer the students and faculty the chance to work
together in a living laboratory that encompasses history and beauty. The
inaugural class will study primarily at the Noisette Campus and use McLeod and
the Old City Jail as their learning labs. For more information, visit or call toll free at 877.283.5245.

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