The Friends of Charleston National Parks trace its origin to 1999. At that time, there was a small parcel of privately held land adjacent to Fort Moultrie. The landowner wanted to build a thirty-eight-foot-high home, which, unfortunately, would block the sight line between Fort Moultrie and Fort Sumter. Because the National Park Service could not buy that land at market value, a non-profit organization formed to tackle the problem. The Fort Sumter-Fort Moultrie Historical Trust was thus born, and it joined with other non-profit organizations to buy the property and transfer it to the National Park Service.
Over the next two decades, the Trust became the official friend’s group of Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie, and it partnered with the forts on numerous projects. Beginning in 2009, the Trust helped plan and execute many of the local commemorative events of the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War. These events included the establishment of historical waysides, public ceremonies, and speaker presentations. During this period, the Trust also created the Kids to the Park program that enabled local 4th-grade children to visit Fort Sumter. For most of these children, the experience marked their first time on a boat. In preservation, the Trust created the Adopt a Cannon program and thus financed the critical protection of dozens of artillery pieces at the forts.
By the conclusion of the Sesquicentennial, the Trust had expanded its coverage of local properties. In 2011, the Trust became the sponsor of Thompson Park at Breach Inlet for the reception and disbursement of funds. Thompson Park marks and commemorates the Revolutionary War battle for Breach Inlet that occurred on June 28, 1776. In 2012, the Trust absorbed the mission and assets of the Friends of Historic Snee Farm, which allowed the Trust to administer specific projects for the Charles Pinckney National Historic Site in Mt. Pleasant.
Beginning in 2022, the Trust began a transformation. It hired its first executive director, Ms. Cheri Yates, and enlisted other administrative support to grow membership, enhance fundraising, and increase awareness of the local parks. Given the National Park Service’s acquisition of the Charleston Light and the Sullivan’s Island Life Saving Station, the Trust decided on a rebranding of the organization. In September 2022, the Trust became the Friends of Charleston National Parks, and with that change of name, the group entered a new era of philanthropic support of the National Park Service in the greater Charleston area.