The American College of the Building Arts

I have lingering regrets about my choice of college degree. It’s not that I think that studying music wasn’t worthwhile, but rather that I was more invested in the idea of being a musician rather than the act of making music. And let’s not get into the plinky-plunky, modernist musical cat fight that passed for the musical curriculum at UCSD, where I did my graduate work.

If I were to step into a time machine back to high school and ponder my next move I have no doubt that I’d ditch the University of California and head to Charleston, South Carolina to attend the American College of the Building Arts. ACBA was formed in the wake of hurricane Hugo, when local residents found that there were no skilled craftspersons to rebuild the traditional buildings that grace Charleston. Skilled workers had to be imported from Europe. The founders of ACBA set out to fix that problem by offering a four year degree that combines shop classes with the liberal arts. At ACBA you can study traditional building crafts such as masonry, timber framing, ironwork, plasterwork and classical architecture as well as English, Spanish, science and math. Many trade schools will teach you plumbing and stick framing, but few will teach you the things that ACBA offers. Garden & Gun magazine has an article on ACBA if you’d like to know more.

Of course things worked out for me in the end. I met my wife Kelly at UCSD when I discovered that the art department grad students threw much better parties than the dour music department.

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2 Comments

  1. I think we all have moments of “if only I had pursued.” But, we did not, and maybe we come to current passions with a maturity we would not and could not have possessed at a younger age. Again, there is Kelly.

    • You are absolutely right and thanks for the reminder. Sometimes we have to move through our mistakes to get to where we are.

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