Spoleto Festival USA has a long-standing relationship with the College of Charleston Cistern Yard. In fact, the very first Opening Ceremony took place at the Cistern Yard on the afternoon of Wednesday, May 25, 1977.

As one of the most recognizable spots in Charleston, the Cistern Yard provides a perfect setting for the Wells Fargo Jazz series, other music performances, and even opera. The towering live oaks create a magnificent tent-like canopy over the audience while the beautifully restored Randolph Hall, built in 1828, serves as the historical backdrop to the stage. The College of Charleston has extensive photo archives of the Cistern Yard dating back to 1886. These photos are located in the Lowcountry Digital Library. Below are a few of our favorite vintage photos:




c. 1920’s





WW1 Commisioning Exercises 1917

Photo of of World War I Commissioning exercises outside Harrison Randolph Hall – 1917

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1930 - from the College of Charleston's Instagram

1930 – from the College of Charleston’s Instagram


If you compare these gorgeous prints with photos from today’s wildly popular photo-sharing platform Instagram,  it is evident that Randolph Hall and the Cistern Yard have retained their imposing beauty.

This summer (May 22 – June 7), Spoleto Festival USA will present five exceptional performances in the Cistern Yard: Madeleine Peyroux, Dianne Reeves, Musica Nuda, Mônica Salmaso, and Kate Davis. Tickets to these and all other Spoleto events are available online at spoletousa.org or over the phone at  (843) 579-3100.


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