2020 Preservation Leadership Award Winner: Patti Marinelli

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By: Andrew Ramspacher

Tuesday, September 8th 2020

Patti Marinelli. Image courtesy of the University of South Carolina
Patti Marinelli leads Cottontown's preservation efforts. Image courtesy of the University of South Carolina


Each year, Historic Columbia presents Preservation Awards to celebrate the accomplishments of local property owners; professionals in the fields of architecture, construction and design; and leaders who champion preservation as an opportunity to support the Midlands’ economy and culture. These awards are given in the areas of Preservation Leadership, Preservation/Restoration, Adaptive Use and New Construction in a Historic Context.

For 39 years, Professor Patti Marinelli taught Spanish at the University of South Carolina. That was her career. But her passions weren’t limited to the classroom.  

Just ask her neighbors.  

Marinelli is receiving Historic Columbia’s Preservation Leadership Award for her tireless work in enabling the historic Cottontown neighborhood to maintain its quaintness and architectural character. A Cottontown resident herself, Marinelli has long championed the importance of preservation for the area she cherishes most.  

“She’s just shown a dedication to preserving the historic integrity of the neighborhood,” said Will Thrift, president of the Cottontown Neighborhood Association, “and the homes in the neighborhood.” 

While she served as chairperson for Cottontown’s historic preservation committee, Marinelli proposed the inclusion of literature and website links on historic preservation in the “new resident notebook.” This was done to allow new neighbors to gain a deeper understanding of the importance of preservation. Links, contacts and other educational information on historic preservation are regularly added by Marinelli to the Cottontown neighborhood Facebook page.  

She used to hold “window workshops” with Cottontown residents to teach them about repair and restoration. 

“She’s very invested,” said Amy Moore, Principal Preservation Planner for the City of Columbia. “I think it’s an appreciation for not just the architecture, but there’s a community and a sense of place that form around architecture, especially as concentrated as it is in places like Cottontown. She values that. It creates a community. I think that’s what a lot of people respond to.  

“She enjoys her neighborhood. I think there’s so much about it that she appreciates and wants to see it preserved.” 

One Cottontown neighborhood meeting saw Marinelli make a presentation to help fellow residents learn about the processes involved in restoration such as Design/Development Review Commission reviews and tax credits residents can take advantage of through the Bailey Bill. 

Recently, Marinelli assisted in an amendment to the South Carolina Property Disclosure that benefitted historic preservation.  

“She’s somebody that goes after an issue from a standpoint of knowledge and passion,” Thrift said. “What I mean by that is she is very knowledgeable about historic homes, she is very knowledgeable about how the planning department works and how approvals can be done and what’s allowed and what’s not allowed, that kind of thing.  

“She’s kind of like a go-to person for anybody in the neighborhood who has a question about historic preservation or renovating your home.” 

The 2020 Preservation Awards are made possible through our generous sponsors Boyer Commercial ConstructionBrennan Works LLCColumbia Development CorporationGarvin Design GroupGBX Group LLCHood Construction Company, Inc.Lambert Architecture & Construction Services, Inc.PMC Property GroupRogers-Lewis1x1 DesignArchitrave, Inc.Cason Development GroupHoney River Catering, and Seed Architecture.