Skip navigation

Connecting people with their parks

Cannon Park

Park Details:

  • Location: 131 Rutledge Ave., Charleston, South Carolina 29401
  • Size: 3.3 Acres
  • Directions

Cannon Park is one of Charleston's most visible parks located near the Medical University of South Carolina on Calhoun Street and sandwiched between Rutledge and Ashley avenues. The grassy area is used extensively by dog owners. This park does allow dogs off leash during certain times of the day. A small playground, shaded by large live oaks, is a welcome spot for kids using the park. And a sidewalk bordering the park is great for running or walking. 


Two plantings were installed on the Rutledge Avenue and Calhoun Street side of Cannon Park in spring 2010. To view a list of the plants growing in these beds, visit Cannon Park Plant List.


Off Leash Dog AreaPark BenchesPlayground


Bird WatchingSunningWalking

Although Cannon Park was not completed until 1989, planning on the site began more than one hundred years earlier. The city gradually acquired land bordered by Calhoun Street on the north, Rutledge Avenue on the east, Bennett Street on the south, and Lynch Street (now known as Ashley Avenue) on the west. This land had originally been part of the Bennett and Rice Mill Ponds. This area for many years was the site of the Franke Home owned and managed by the Lutheran Church. The city bought the rest of the area from Captain E. L. Halsey and planned for the area to become one of the South Wards premier “pleasure grounds” – second only to White Point Gardens.

In order to implement these ideas, plans were requested from the Olmstead landscape architects – a firm from New York which was still headed by Frederick Olmstead and was best known for Central Park and the grounds of the Biltmore Mansion. The Park, or as it was sometimes referred to, The Mall was to be named for Daniel Cannon – an influential and renowned citizen from the Revolutionary War period – who was a carpenter, wainwright, and the owner of lumber mills which were associated with the original mill ponds in the area. One hundred and forty-nine pieces of correspondence, concerning what was at that point called Cannon Square, exist between the Olmstead firm and the City of Charleston.

During the 1890’s, a major change occurred with the site with the construction of an auditorium. This Confederate War Veterans Auditorium was named for John Thomson who had left a large sum of money and several major parcels of land to the city. Part of his estate was used for the erection of this building – the columns of which remain the focal point of today’s Cannon Park.

In 1907 the auditorium building and grounds were transferred to the Charleston Museum and the guardianship of Paul M. Rey, the curator of the museum in 1903. The building served many generations of Charlestonians for over seventy years. Children met in the grounds and entered to gaze in awe at the whale skeleton hanging from the high ceiling of the former auditorium.

In 1980, the Charleston Museum had completed its move to new headquarters on Meeting and John Street and transferred the guardianship of the building back to the City of Charleston. Plans were made to demolish the old auditorium/museum and implement the original Olmstead plan for the area. However, in October 1981, the now empty building burned leaving only the columns and parts of the entrance steps to the “Old Museum.”

A new plan for the park was developed and implemented in the mid-1980’s.



Charleston City Yearbooks; CCPL

Biographical Dictionary of the SC House Representatives, Vol. III; CCPL

Charleston Vertical File, 1020 – Parks, Cannon; CCPL


's Avatar Post a comment:

Park Pics

About the Park Directory

CPC ProgramsCharleston Parks Conservancy has put together an online directory of all of our great Charleston Parks. You can browse parks, learn about their history, find out what amenities they offer and much more.

Some city parks are available for event permits. If you are interested in having an event or large gathering (wedding, festival, fundraiser, etc.) in a park, please contact the City of Charleston's permitting office to determine if the park is available for permitting and, if so, how to submit a permit. Call 843-724-7327.

Upcoming Park Events

There are no events currently scheduled for this park.

see all events >