Colonial Lake/Moultrie Playground

The historically rich Colonial Lake and its adjacent park space, Moultrie Playground are undergoing a renovation design funded by the Charleston Parks Conservancy. The conceptual plan will breath new life into these two multiple-use parks known for being the community meeting ground for the surrounding neighborhoods. To date, the following activities have taken place:

  • August 2007 – The Conservancy sponsored charrette looks at the challenges and opportunities with both sites. Yvonne Evans, City Council Member and members of the Harleston Village Neighborhood Association are involved with the event.
  • October 2007 – Public Forum is held to discuss the findings and get feedback from the community. Design Works, the local landscape architectural team chosen to work on the design is present to focus on the community concerns and comments.  
  • November 2007-August 2008 – Conceptual plans continued to evolve.
  • October 16th, 2008 – Public Forum –  “Pride in our Parks”
  • Presentation Notes


  • 150+ years
  • April 1768: An act that cut the Broad St. canal and reserved the surrounding marsh land for the common use of Charleston
  • 1870: Rutledge St. Pond is created.
    •  9.5 acres
    • Intended to rival White Point Gardens
  • 1881: Received the name Colonial Lake in honor of the Colonial Commons created in 1768.
  • 1880s: Construction on lake
    • Oyster shell sidewalks and concrete retaining walls built
    • Pond deepened, oak trees planted, benches installed
  • 1900s: Lumber yards on the Ashley River
  • 1930: Moultrie Playground built
  • 1937: Tennis and skating courts built
  • 1949: Land ceded for Sergeant Jasper House

Urban Context:

  • Interplay of Charleston’s botanical and natural across the peninsula from Riverfront Park [formal] to the Ashley River Marsh [informal] converge at Colonial Lake and Moultrie Playground.
  • Queen Street Axis: allows for a physical connection across the southern part of the peninsula from Riverfront Park, along Queen St., to Colonial Lake and Moultrie Playground, through the existing canal, and out to the Ashley River Marsh.
  • Colonial Lake and Moultrie Playground act as an integral part of the downtown Charleston parks network which connects citizens and visitors back to the natural history and genius loci of the city.
  • View corridors along streets that “dead-end” into Colonial Lake and Moultrie Playground serve to visually connect and extend the open spaces in all directions, especially out to the Ashley River walk along the canal.
  • The edges of Colonial Lake extend across the streets that bound it to capture the opposite sides through the use of street trees that form the “Palm Allee” along Rutledge Ave and the “Live Oak Allee” along Ashley Ave.
  • The Live Oak Allee also serves to narrow Ashley Ave, slowing traffic.
  • Specialty paving at the corners of the lake as well as at the ends. This paving treatment at the boathouse serves to connect it across Ashley Ave. to the lake.
  • Sections: narrowing of streets to slow traffic and allow for the creation of a streetscape, and parking is relocated to one side of the street.

Design and Site:

Colonial Lake
  • Enhance water quality, reinstitute tidal flushing, raise water level
  • Utilize best horticultural practices in both design and maintenance
  • Enhance the promenade experience
  • Create multiple gathering places, enhance seating opportunities
  • Extend presence of park into surrounding neighborhoods
  • Tell the history of Colonial Lake
  • Connect Colonial Lake to the Ashley River
Moultrie Playground:
  • Preserve and enhance existing active recreational opportunities and programs
  • Provide new active and passive recreational opportunities
  • Provide new and improved community building
  • Interpret historic canal linking Colonial Lake to the Ashley River


Colonial Lake:
  • Community gardening with the Charleston Park Angels
  • Running and walking along the promenade
  • Gathering and seating spaces
  • Toy boat sailing and fishing
Moultrie Playground
  • Children’s play equipment
  • Dog park
  • Tennis courts and baseball field
  • Gathering and lounging space on the “Great Lawn”
  • Promenade connection along the canal to the Ashley River Marsh

Charleston Parks Conservancy:      


  • The developing role of the Conservancy and the Charleston Park Angels in the care of the future park renovations.
  • Community involvement in the long term care of the future park renovations.
  • Relate the historically rich plant pallet and the our native plant heritage with that of the exotic and native combinations which might occur in the planting schemes.

General Notes:

  • Boating on Colonial Lake in full sized boats, although seemingly romantic, is logistically difficult, but we are open to public feedback.
  • Raising water levels in the lake regulated by a gate valve will increase oxygen content in the lake therefore creating a better habitat for fish and wildlife as well as improving general health of the lake.
  • Potential for low-profile LED lighting along the new granite edge of the lake.
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