1 Cooper Street | Charleston, SC
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, and the residents of the Eastside, a neighborhood that has benefited little from the City’s recent prosperity, have said loudly that the smokestacks matter. It is not the role of Council to determine what the community values, and Council needs to hear from you to preserve this important piece of Eastside history.
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.
The City has retained information on the structural condition of the smokestacks for years, yet suddenly is using the threat of hurricane season to demolish the smokestacks without community input or adherence to the City’s own ordinances, simply because City leadership does not want to spend the money to stabilize them. The Preservation Society and Historic Charleston Foundation have offered to help fundraise for this effort, which the City has repeatedly disregarded. Furthermore, preservation has been pitted against other priorities like funding for affordable housing or the Lowline, and members of Council have said that the smokestacks are not beautiful and not South of Broad, and therefore not worthy of preservation.
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.
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