Advocacy

Save the St. Julian Devine Smokestacks

preservation-admin , September 11, 2020

Image of the twin smokestacks at St. Julian Devine Community Center today; Historic image courtesy of the City of Charleston Records Center, Records of the City of Charleston Incinerator, 1916-1956)

Background

In late August, the Preservation Society learned the twin smokestacks at St. Julian Devine Community Center were ordered down by the City Building Official, citing concern for their structural stability during hurricane season. Originally built as part of the City’s trash incinerator in 1935, these structures are very visible landmarks on the east side of the peninsula that serve as a tangible record of the area’s industrial past. 

The call for demolition came as a surprise as there had been no outreach or engagement with the East Side neighborhood, general public or preservation community. As a City-owned property, the PSC questioned how the structures were allowed to deteriorate to this point and called for further investigation to determine if demolition was the only option for these incredibly unique structures. 

In early September, the City revised its proposal to partially demolish the smokestacks to 60ft in height and requested Council to approve more than $500,000 to fund the demolition work. 

Current Status

At the September 8 City Council meeting, PSC Executive Director Kristopher King spoke in defense of the smokestacks, urging Council not to proceed with funding this proposal to allow time to study plans for stabilization and openly engage with the community. The PSC noted the projected 60-day timeline for demolition would provide no protection or benefit for hurricane season and that a second engineer’s opinion is necessary to evaluate all options for the future of the smokestacks. Council ultimately agreed more time was needed to allow continued study of stabilizing and preserving the structures, and deferred the decision for two weeks, until the next Council meeting.

The thousands of signatures, comments, and phone calls made in support of saving the smokestacks made an impact, and we thank you for standing up with us! But the fight is not over and more voices are needed. Please continue to share the petition by the Preservation Society and Historic Charleston Foundation and stay tuned for more information on how to engage in this important conversation!