Many of Historic Charleston Foundation's recent preservation initiatives have been focused on the historic structures in the neighborhoods north of Calhoun Street. In Elliottborough, the Foundation purchased properties threatened with demolition, restored their historic character and livability, and then sold them to families with ties to the neighborhood.
The overall goal of the Neighborhood Impact Initiative is to stabilize neighborhoods by securing the future of these historic structures. This initiative acts as an important catalyst in the preservation of entire neighborhoods by rehabilitating deteriorated properties with architectural merit, while preventing the displacement of residents.
Beginning in June 1995 with 33 Bogard Street in Elliottborough and continuing to more recent projects on St. Philip Street, the program has successfully rehabilitated twelve historic properties.
Through the program, the Foundation restored the James Morrison House, c. 1850, one of three properties on St. Philip Street donated to the Foundation by the Post and Courier Foundation. The house, at 236 St. Philip Street, had been badly modified over time and vacant for a number of years. The property was restored through a generous gift from the Post and Courier Foundation and an anonymous donor. When completed in the spring of 2003, it was sold to homeowners with ties to the historic neighborhood. As are all buildings sold by the Foundation under the Neighborhood Impact Initiative, the Morrison House was sold with restrictive covenants that will ensure the protection of its historic fabric.
The Foundation has also undertaken the rehabilitation of 216 St. Philip Street and the transfer of ownership of 218 St. Philip Street, the other two properties donated by the Post and Courier Foundation. 218 St. Philip Street is particularly significant as it is the site of the first African-American bank in Charleston. The Peoples Federation Bank was founded in 1920 and served the community throughout the ensuing decade. The bank was established along with several other commercial businesses in the house, which was built in 1849 by John Hartz, a local grocer who also built the house at 216 St. Philip Street.
The Foundation is currently working in partnership with Habitat for Humanity (HFH) and the City of Charleston to rehabilitate a single style house at 66 Lee Street. This partnership marks a shift in our Neighborhood Impact Initiative program. Rather than the Foundation purchasing an endangered historic property outright and performing its rehabilitation, the partnership enables each organization to use its unique area of expertise to complete a successful rehabilitation project. In addition, spreading project costs among the Foundation, HFH, and the City of Charleston frees funding for future partnership projects.
In the case of 66 Lee Street, the City of Charleston's Department of Housing and Urban Development identified the property and family in need. Habitat for Humanity confirmed that the family met requirements for assistance. HFH also requires that the family contributes "sweat equity" to the project. HFH staff members supervise subcontractors and volunteers. The Foundation has been involved in the preservation of the historic elements of the building. Restrictive covenants will be placed on 66 Lee Street by the Foundation at the completion of the project to protect the property's historic integrity.
Future Neighborhood Impact Initiative projects will focus on freedman's cottages.
Below are the criteria for future projects:
The property must be an owner-occupied single family residence.
The project should help a long-term resident stay in the home, with a commitment of continued occupancy in the building.
The homeowner must meet the Habitat for Humanity qualifications for income and eligibility. This includes a certain amount of owner participation throughout the restoration process.
In line with the Foundation's mission, the property must have vernacular architectural merit, and the rehabilitation process must maintain the historic integrity of the building.
When possible multiple projects should be undertaken in the same neighborhood. This magnifies the impact and encourages other homeowners in the neighborhood to rehab their properties.
The Foundation should continue to solicit partners. The Foundation's focus will be on following preservation guidelines and promoting opportunities for sustainability.
To learn more about the Neighborhood Impact Initiative program, contact April Wood, the Foundation manager of easements and technical outreach. If you would like to support future preservation initiatives, please call (843) 724-8497 or donate now.