Lost Charleston | 71 King

Preservation-Society , March 26, 2020

As downtown residents may recall, for more than half a century the southwest corner of King and Tradd Streets was an anomaly in the densely developed, predominantly residential district south of Broad Street. Positioned on the diagonal to the intersection, the 139-square-foot Boxx Service Station, also known as the Fort Sumter Filling Station, stood as one of the last surviving businesses south of Broad Street until its demolition in early 2000.

Constructed in the 1930s, the one-story Craftsman style service station was stuccoed masonry with a half-hip portico, wide unenclosed eave overhangs, and exposed rafter tails. When the request to demolish the 1930s building was first brought before the Board of Architectural Review (BAR) in July of 1999, a motion for denial carried as members of the community debated the value of the building to the site and the neighborhood. Some said the building and the service it provided represented an important part of neighborhood character and daily life. Others said it was out of place, and inconveniently located. The Preservation Society of Charleston voiced strong opposition to the demolition of the historic gas station, citing its distinct architectural character and importance to community understanding of the evolution of the historic district.

Throughout the eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries, the area known today as Charlestowne Neighborhood was characterized by a variety of uses, both residential and commercial. Groceries, pharmacies, taverns, beauty salons, doctor’s offices, and artisan shops were all common commercial uses interspersed among residential buildings.

A 1999 Post and Courier article noted the irony of the Preservation Society’s opposition to this demolition request, recalling that the Society was established in 1920 to save the Joseph Manigault House from demolition to make way for a new gas station. While the challenges facing the historic built environment are constantly evolving, the historic preservation movement has always focused on fostering the authenticity, integrity, and vitality of historic districts. In early 2000, the BAR ultimately granted approval to the demolition request and in 2003 a 3.5 story residence was constructed on the site.

By Anna-Catherine Carroll, Manager of Preservation Initiatives

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