2021 Impact Report
Posted: November 30, 2021
Education has always been a key pillar of Historic Charleston Foundation’s work. As we enter our 75th year, our programs gain more importance in reflecting who we are and what we do as an organization, and the value we bring to the community through our mission. Your financial investment allows us to continue to find new ways to collaborate and teach and engage with a broad range of students, from adults to children.
This year we:
- Hosted a team of Morehead-Cain scholars from UNC-Chape Hill to take a deep dive into the issues affecting Charleston’s Eastside community. With the city’s rapid economic growth and demographic changes, longtime predominately African American Communities, like the Eastside, are increasingly left out of discussions on redevelopment and how to address community challenges. The Morehead-Cain scholars engaged with community stakeholders on ways that HCF could bring added value to current work in the neighborhood and help amplify their concerns, focusing on empowering youth and increasing collaboration and transparency.
- Participated in a Task Force working with Charleston County School District to reassess the current CCSD curriculum to ensure a comprehensive history of Charleston is taught in the public schools. As a result of the Perspectives Series HCF hosted last fall, the Foundation was invited to join other members of the Task Force including representatives from local, state and national organizations, who all have a vested interest in how cultural narrative is shared and taught.
- Re-imagined the Festival of Houses and Gardens once again! With early-year rising COVID numbers, and a planned postponed Festival, we began with virtual Food for Thought Luncheon Lectures in March and shifted to in-person events beginning in April. We also extended programming through the summer with Friday Morning History Walks in addition to the weekly luncheon lecture program and monthly Gullah Spiritual Concerts
- Presented new research on HCF’s secretary wardrobe (exhibited in the NRH gallery) built by Charleston cabinetmaker, John Gough, at the Williamsburg Antiques Forum. Director of Museums, Grahame Long, with Gary Albert, Director of Research at the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA), delivered new details and insights into this important piece. Gough was born enslaved, and freed in 1763, signing this beautiful furniture piece as a freed man.
Advocacy and preservation are at the heart of what we do every day.
It is through our constant efforts that we influence the shape of public policy throughout the Lowcountry. Preservation is not a “one and done” effort. It requires consistent focus and strategic thought. With your ongoing support, we are proud to bring together collaborators and outside experts to help us navigate the enormous pressure this region is under from development and environmental change.
This year we:
- Unveiled our exciting new partnership with the development team at Navy Yard Charleston (NYC), working to capture the diverse stories of the people that lived and toiled at the former Navy base throughout the 20th century. This oral history documentation project will ultimately be archived at HCF. We will also document the process as the NYC team unveils their master plan and begins the first phase of this amazing multi-decade redevelopment rehabilitating an array of significant buildings on the historic site to create an innovative mixed-use community. This bold project will be one of the most impactful preservation efforts in the Lowcountry and we are excited to be part of it.
- Lobbied for the Phillips Community to be designated as Charleston County’s first Historic District, providing oversight and protection to the district from development. Established by freedmen in the 1870s, Phillips is one of a few surviving African American settlement communities in Charleston County. HCF also worked to successfully challenge the widening of Highway 41 that would have adversely impacted Phillips. Charleston County is now advancing a compromise plan that poses minimal adverse impacts to the Phillips Community, while still reducing traffic congestion. We are hopeful that this success story will serve as a model for similar communities throughout the county.
- Won final approval for the rehabilitation of the Pine Tree Hotel at Mosquito Beach. Built in 1962, the Pine Tree Hotel hosted African American locals and tourists who visited Mosquito Beach during Jim Crowera segregation for a place of refuge and entertainment. HCF conducted extensive research which earned Mosquito Beach placement on the National Register of Historic Places. Next, the Pine Tree Hotel owner William “Cubbie” Wilder and HCF were awarded a second African American Civil Rights Grant from the National Park Service to bring the hotel back to life. All approvals have now been granted, and HCF will begin to carefully oversee and document the imminent rehabilitation process.
- Completed the renovation of 963 Battery Avenue for permanently affordable housing. Working with the HCF founded Charleston Redevelopment Corporation, this historic West Ashley home was donated and moved to its current location in Maryville last year. The renovation is complete, and the home is finally ready to welcome new residents. Of particular interest are the porch’s preserved wrought iron railings by famed blacksmith, Philip Simmons. This project is complemented by the collaboration of HCF’s Revolving Loan program and a grant from The 1772 Foundation to assist eligible low income people with finding a home to call their own.
- Re-engaged the community on the Army Corps peninsula seawall project with a public webinar addressing our interpretation of the draft final report, along with the city of Charleston and the Army Corps, in order to provide guidance to the community on important aspects of the report. HCF’s Cashion Drolet serves on the city’s Army Corps Citizen Advisory Committee, tasked to make recommendations to City Council on various aspects of the project. HCF also worked with the Corps to develop a Programmatic Agreement (PA) focused on reducing potential adverse effects of the seawall project to the downtown historic district.
- Proactively filed suit in federal court to defend HCF’s easement on the Carroll Building in the Market area, demonstrating HCF’s willingness to strongly fight challenges to its easement program. After HCF denied a developer’s request to convert the Carroll Building from office to hotel, an attempt was made to seek the city’s approval, prompting HCF to take proactive legal action. In settling the litigation, HCF was able to protect the ability to govern land use in all our easements, while ensuring that this prominent corner never becomes a hotel.
- Contributed to the City Plan, a rewrite of the City of Charleston comprehensive ten-year plan. Starting with a completely clean slate, the city worked closely with HCF to develop a plan and vision for Charleston that is committed to the Dutch Dialogues Charleston recommendations, expanding affordable housing opportunities, and further protecting Charleston’s historic and cultural resources. The City Plan is a bold document that, thanks to a robust and extensive public engagement process, represents the visions, goals and priorities of the community for the next 10 years.
- Lobbied the SC federal delegation on the Historic Tax Credit Growth and Opportunity Act (HTC-GO) and other federal issues important to preservation. The HTC is an important catalyst for rehabilitation projects like the Jackson Street Cottages, the Cigar Factory, and the former Navy Base. HCF also hosted Congresswoman Nancy Mace at HCF headquarters for a discussion of current issues and a tour of the Nathaniel Russell House.
Your support lets us dig deeper.
HCF’s museum houses continue to present new research and enriching educational opportunities through discoveries uncovered in our archaeology work and comparative field studies. Each artifact is a clue into the lives of the people who lived and worked there and leads to even more revelations about the people, the place, and the era. Your support helps us discover, chronicle, and share the stories as more is learned.
This year we:
- Dug below the surface of Nathaniel House kitchen house. On a mission to discover the historic use of the cellar space beneath the Kitchen House, ground penetrating radar was used before excavation. In collaboration with archaeologists Martha Zierden of The Charleston Museum, Dr. Jon Marcoux, Director of the Clemson/College of Charleston Graduate Program in Historic Preservation, and Corey Heyward of Drayton Hall, the team uncovered several thousand artifacts pertaining to kitchen and laundry activities. Also discovered was a surprisingly dense concentration of butchered beef bones, and a rare intact fire insurance marker, issued by the Imperial Insurance Company in London, c.1820.
- Commissioned the restoration of a special Recamier, c.1805. This incredible piece of furniture, carved by Samuel Field McIntire (1780-1819) and once owned by William Randolph Hearst, was recovered in period appropriate silk damask and woven custom trim, specially manufactured by Prelle in Lyon, France. It will be prominently installed in the oval drawing room of the Russell House.
- Acquired a set of important local paintings. The owners of Mulberry Plantation donated a remarkable set of four Broughton family (builders of Mulberry Castle) portraits dating to the mid-to-late eighteenth century. A portrait of Christina Broughton (c. 1713-1731) was painted by Henrietta De Beaulieu Dering Johnston, the first female artist to work in South Carolina. A second portrait of Alexander Broughton (1690-1778) was painted by celebrated Charleston portraitist Jeremiah Theus (1716-1774). Both are exhibited in the Russell House gallery and will be joined by two portraits depicting a young lady in early 18th century dress.
- Completed architectural surveys, measured drawings and photography of 12 peninsula urban outbuildings to better understand the Russell House kitchen house in a broader context. Continuing the work of the late Ed Chappell, HCF partnered with preservation colleagues to conduct this fieldwork, under guidance of consultants Jobie Hill and Susan Buck. The final report includes research and documentation of a unique aspect of Charleston’s historic landscape— service buildings, laundries, kitchens and enslaved people’s living quarters—which had unfortunately been little studied.
- Catalogued and photographed all artifacts found during the Nathaniel Russell kitchen house excavations and incorporated the discoveries into the College of Charleston’s Lowcountry Digital Library. These important pieces are now on public view and available to students and researchers.
Consider supporting Historic Charleston Foundation with a tax-deductible gift. Your involvement and investment are what powers the Foundation’s impact.