CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The American Heritage Association has filed a lawsuit against the City of Charleston for an alleged violation of the heritage act.

Brett Barry, president of the association, said Thursday the city violated the Heritage Act – a state law aimed at protecting historical monuments and named structures – when the name of Memminger Auditorium was changed to Festival Hall in 2020.

Memminger, a slave owner in Charleston, South Carolina, served as the first Confederate States Secretary of the Treasury in the early 1860s.

“This update to our brand not only falls more in line with our core business and personal values, but it also more accurately represents the versatility and unique possibilities the space offers,” the auditorium noted on its website.

The auditorium, located next to Memminger Elementary off Beaufain Street in downtown Charleston, was constructed in 1939 and has served as venue for several top events throughout Charleston’s history, including Spoleto Festival USA.

“Our monuments are under assault by Mayor Tecklenburg and other proponents of Cancel Culture,” said Barry in his news release on Thursday.

“The Heritage Act was created specifically for the protection of monuments such as the Lee Memorial. Why is state law not being enforced,” asked the group’s attorney, Lauren Martel.

The group also filed a lawsuit against the city, again, for removing a Robert E. Lee Memorial from the Charleston School of Math and Science, at the request of the Charleston County School District, in 2021.

The American Heritage Association is a non-profit based in Charleston. Leaders say they are “dedicated to the preservation of America’s national memory and the principles upon which it was founded.”

The city does not own the building and did not decide on the name change. A lease agreement, provided to News 2, shows the city entered into an agreement with the Charleston County School District which owns the facility, in February 2007. Moreover, the county entered into a simultaneous management agreement with Spoleto Festival USA and City of Charleston — their goal was to renovate the facility for the city and festival’s usage.

Congresswoman Nancy Mace was also named in the American Heritage Association’s claim, saying she voted to remove statues of “South Carolinians that have rested on Capitol Hill for decades.”

News 2 spoke with Rep. Mace on Thursday afternoon and gave us the following response:

“I have not voted to remove statues — I did vote to move statues on the Capitol grounds — in particular that bill I voted in favor of was a bill that was moving the bust of Supreme Court Justice Taney. Justice Taney is the author of the Dred Scott opinion that said if you were black, you could not be a citizen of the United States. So, I was totally fine with moving his bust out of the main rotunda of the Capitol to another location on the Capitol. So, there’s a little bit of misinformation out there about that particular vote.”

She went on to say, “We don’t want to erase history we want to make sure that we’re taking all that into account when we’re making those decisions and respecting the rights of property owners too. There’s gotta be an all of the above approach.”