Herbert A. DeCosta, Jr.
Before retirement, Herbert A. DeCosta, Jr. was President of one of the most successful African-American businesses in South Carolina. Not only was the H. A. DeCosta Company among the state’s oldest general contracting firms, it was included in Black Enterprise magazine’s list of the top 100 Black Businesses in the nation for 1979. The company built garden apartments, churches, schools, and custom homes, known as specialists in the restoration of historic properties, which is Mr. DeCosta’s area of expertise. Herbert A. DeCosta, Jr. was born in Charleston, S.C., the son of Herbert A. DeCosta and Julia Craft DeCosta, and great grandson of William and Ellen Craft, noted for their heroic escape from slavery to freedom in 1848. He was graduated from the Avery Institute, Charleston, in 1940, and from Iowa State University in 1944 with a B.S. degree in Architectural Engineering. He was employed as an architectural Engineer by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (now NASA). In 1947 he joined his father in the business founded by his grandfather in 1899. Upon his father’s death in 1960, he became the president of H.A. DeCosta Company and held that position until the business was sold in 1990 to two associates. Today, he serves as a historic restoration consultant on various local projects for the construction firms, Historic Traditions and Grace Custom Homes. His restoration work has been featured in various magazines and newspapers, including House and Garden, USA Today, College of Charleston magazine Gems in a Crown, and The Post and Courier. He received the American Institute of Architects Award for Excellence in Community Architecture, presented by the Mayor of Charleston. One of his most significant projects was serving as Construction Manager for the Herndon Mansion in Atlanta, Georgia, said by W.E.B. DuBois “to be the finest Negro Residence in the South.” Herbert DeCosta has been active in the civic affairs of the city and the state. He is a former board member of the United Way of Charleston County, the first African-American member and board member of the Charleston Trident Chamber of Commerce, the first African-American board member of the S.C. State Board for Technical and Comprehensive Education, founding board member of the Charleston Business and Professional Association and the National Association of Minority Contractors, former board member of the National Association of Home Builders, the S.C. Chamber of Commerce, Benedict College Trustee Board, S.C. State Historic Preservation Review Board, City of Charleston Board of Architectural Review, City of Charleston Planning and Zoning Commission, Carolina Art Association, and former board member and recipient of the Silver Beaver Award from the Coastal Carolina Council of the Boy Scouts of America. He is a Vestry member and former Senior Warden of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Charleston. Most recently, Mr. DeCosta has completed service as a long-time board member of Historic Charleston Foundation (9 years) and Penn Community Services, Inc. (more than 30 years and now an Emeritus member). He currently serves on the boards of the Spoleto Festival, the South Carolina Archives and History Foundation, the Art Forms and Theatre Concepts, the S.C. African American Heritage Council, the Cannon Street YMCA, and as Trustee of the College of Building Arts in Charleston. In 1993 he was featured on BellSouth’s S.C. African-American History Calendar. In 1998, he received the S.C. Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation. In 2002, the Historic Charleston Foundation granted him its highest honor, the Frances R. Edmunds Award for Historic Preservation, for his lifetime contributions to the city. In 2004, the Committee to Save the City presented him the Three Sisters Award for “preserving the architectural traditions of Charleston and passing them on to a new generation.”