History of the Memorial
Plans for a memorial began in July 2015 when The Beach Company, a five-generation family-owned Charleston company, approached Reverend Dr. Norvel Goff, Sr., presiding elder of the Edisto District of the AME Church, for his blessing to create a memorial fund and a community partnership with the church.
A committee of church and community leaders and a design build committee comprised of local art, design and history professionals was established to create a collaborative vision for the future memorial.
The committees began their search for an architect capable of memorializing the nine lives lost, paying tribute to the survivors and church members, and additionally conveying the powerful and inspiring ways in which family members turned to their faith to reverse the spread of hate with a message of unyielding love and forgiveness.
Instead of asking potential architects to create memorial designs, the committee simply asked the architects to submit essays on forgiveness and to explain their design philosophy.
Architect Michael Arad, designer of the National September 11 Memorial in New York City, was selected to create a permanent memorial on the grounds of Mother Emanuel AME Church. Arad’s ability to design a memorial honoring the victims, survivors, first responders and families of 9/11 would lay the foundation for his many interviews, meetings and discussions with families, church members and community leaders in Charleston.
In August of 2017 Michael Arad began his work with a series of meetings with survivors, victims’ families, church members, and others.
Arad began an extensive research and ideation phase, followed by a series of design approaches which were shared with the memorial design committee over a six-month period.
In February 2018, Arad presented a design for the Emanuel Nine Memorial which was unanimously agreed upon by the design committee. Family members of the nine approved the design at an unveiling meeting on July 15, 2018.
On October 24, 2018, The Charleston Board of Architectural review unanimously approved conceptual plans for the Emanuel Nine Memorial and Survivors’ Garden.
In February 2019, Arad presented a design for the Emanuel Nine Memorial which was unanimously agreed upon by the design committee. Family members of the nine approved the design at an unveiling meeting.
Memorial website launch. Mother Emanuel Memorial Foundation hires an executive director.
In July 2021 we started pre-construction work on the grounds of Mother Emanuel AME Church. An incredibly talented team, including general contractor Balfour Beatty and civil engineering firm Thomas & Hutton have begun pro-bono efforts to bring this memorial to life.
The following companies are also part of the Emanuel Nine Memorial team:
Guy Nordenson & Associates – structural engineer
SM&E – Geotechnical engineer
Altieri Sebor Wieber – Electrical Engineer
Design Works – Landscape Architecture
Fisher Marantz Stone – Lighting Consultant