Bennet Rice Mill Digital Documentation
preservation-admin , September 15, 2021
Image captured via drone by Dr. Brent Fortenberry, August 2021 (L) HABS photograph of the original structure, May 1958 (R)
The façade of the Bennett Rice Mill is the last vestige of a c. 1845 structure significant to the history of rice production in Charleston. One of very few urban rice mill sites remaining in the U.S., the ruin of this high-style, industrial building provides a rare glimpse into the material culture of the Lowcountry’s most lucrative agricultural system built on the institution of slavery.
Bennett Rice Mill was acquired by the State Ports Authority (SPA) in 1947. Now, the land surrounding the site is slated for the redevelopment of Union Pier, making this a critical time to document the severely deteriorated structure and explore options for its preservation.
The Preservation Society has teamed up with SPA, the Lowe development team, and Historic Charleston Foundation to better understand the structural work that would be needed to save this iconic structure. Our first step is to produce a digital model that will lead to detailed drawings, a conditions report, and an estimate of the financial commitment required for its preservation. The work is being spearheaded by Dr. Brent Fortenberry of Tulane University. Last month, PSC staff joined Dr. Fortenberry as he conducted ground-level laser scanning supplemented with drone photography. Stay tuned for updates on this ongoing project.