Posted: June 8, 2022
The Pine Tree Hotel was constructed in 1962 to provide tourists with accommodations while they enjoyed the music, food, and recreation at Mosquito Beach. “Skeeta Beach” as it was called was a place where African Americans could safely congregate to enjoy the South Carolina coast, as many of today’s popular beach destinations were racially segregated during the Jim Crow Era of the American South. The hotel was at the heart of a thriving entertainment district on the quiet agricultural island of Sol Legare, and operated through the late 1980’s when it was badly damaged by a number of hurricanes. The hotel has stood defiant but slowly losing its battle with time, until the current owner and nephew of the original owners, William “Cubby” Wilder, sought to save the hotel and return it to its former glory.
Historic Charleston Foundation has been working this project for number of years to help rehabilitate the historic Pine Tree Hotel. Initial funding for the project was provided by the National Park Service, African American Civil Rights Grant program in 2019. The project was put on hold during 2020 due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. Work resumed on the project in 2021 to secure our Federal and State approval of the proposed work. Due to the site’s proximity to ecologically important salt water marshes and oyster banks we have had to add significant site improvements to control storm water runoff and eliminate environmental impacts. To meet modern commercial building code requirements, many mechanical upgrades that were not part of the NPS budget to repair the building had to be added. The costliest of these is a modern Fire Suppression System, quoted at $55,000.
Historic Charleston Foundation received permits to begin the deconstruction and salvaging of historic materials in April this year. Just before the deconstruction was completed a portion of the hotel caught fire and was destroyed. Thankfully the construction team was able to salvage most of the historic material to re-use in the hotel’s reconstruction. We have now been able to pull our final permits for new construction and hope to start work on rebuilding the hotel as soon as possible.
Due to the additional building code requirements, required site improvements, and increases in construction costs since 2019, there is a significant shortfall in the budget. Proceeds from the Women Who IMPACT Preservation event honoring Vereen Coen in September 2022 will contribute to this project. For more information on the event, follow the link above.
For the Pine Tree Hotel project to be fully completed and approved for occupancy, additional funding will be needed. If you are interested in supporting the Mosquito Beach Project, please contact Blair Phillips, Director of Development. No matter the obstacles, Historic Charleston Foundation remains steadfast in our commitment to bring this important historic treasure back to life.