Phillips Community Update
preservation-admin , February 12, 2021
Left: ABC News 4 coverage of efforts to list Phillips on the National Register; right: CHS Today piece on Phillips preservation efforts
There was a flurry of positive media last week around the work the Preservation Society is undertaking alongside the Coastal Conservation League and Historic Charleston Foundation to list the Phillips Community on the National Register of Historic Places. Charleston’s ABC and CBS-affiliates both aired features including interviews with Richard Habersham, a 4th generation resident of Phillips, as well as PSC staff Erin Minnigan and Kristopher King (check them out here and here). The National Register project was also the lead feature in local blog CHS today and historic settlement communities were prominently featured in a recent Post and Courier editorial.
A National Register nomination will provide documentation on the cultural and historical significance of the Phillips Community that will be critical in advocating for Charleston County to pursue less impactful traffic solutions along Highway 41. The County’s current preferred plan (Alternative 1) would further bifurcate Phillips, irreparably altering the historic settlement community’s distinctive landscape. Charleston County Council is expected to consider the proposal in the coming months.
We also hope that the nomination will benefit other postbellum African American settlement communities in the region by providing context for the imperative of preservation, particularly as skyrocketing land values threaten the displacement of longstanding kinship networks. These cultural landscapes are deeply embedded with meaning and history, as land was the means by which formerly enslaved individuals gained greater economic independence and political agency.
For those interested in learning more about this unique resource type, here are a few educational resources we recommend:
- Scanlonville: A History – The Land & Community; a 50-minute recording on YouTube of a recent presentation sponsored by The Town of Mount Pleasant Historical Commission as part of its 2021 Black History Month event series.
- The County of Charleston’s Historic Resources Survey Update (2016); read about African American settlement communities throughout the County starting on page 64.
- Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Management Plan (2012); this publication profiles resources related to the Gullah Geechee community in the broad swath of coast encompassed within a Congressionally-established national heritage area.
List of settlement communities identified by the City of Charleston as part of the 2020-2021 Comprehensive Plan update