Advocacy Alert: Longshoremen Building up for Demolition Review
preservation-admin , February 7, 2022
The International Longshoremen’s Association Hall at 1142 Morrison Drive
This week, the Board of Architectural Review-Large will hear a request for demolition of the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) Hall at 1142 Morrison Drive. Built in 2002, this is an unusual case where the Board will review a demolition proposal for a building less than 50 years old. An exceptional piece of architecture with strong ties to Charleston’s African American community, the PSC believes there are compelling considerations for the building’s preservation.
The predominantly African American Charleston chapter of the ILA was founded in 1936, but unionization of African American maritime workers has played a prominent role in local, social and economic life since the Reconstruction era.
Left: “Toating Rice, Charleston, S.C.”, 1879, Library of Congress; Right: Harvey Gantt campaign photograph, Clemson University Libraries.
In the early 2000s, Harvey Gantt, a native to Charleston and the first African American to graduate from Clemson, was selected as the architect for the organization’s new headquarters on Morrison Drive. Gantt’s design was heavily influenced by the Longshoremen’s work, including the aluminum cladding that imitates modern shipping containers, as well as the prominent tapered tower and small windows meant to resemble a ship’s smokestack and portholes. The result is a meaningful, unique design that serves as an excellent architectural example of its time.
Located at a critical gateway site in a rapidly growing area, the PSC believes the building presents the quality and scale that should set the tone for the Upper Peninsula as it continues to develop. While not yet historic, the building possesses clear architectural and cultural value that should be considered worthy of preservation. Currently proposed to be demolished to make way for a 440-unit apartment complex, we will advocate for the building’s retention and incorporation into the site’s redevelopment, which we feel would best serve the project, and honor the legacy of the Longshoremen and Harvey Gantt.