Historical Society presents annual preservation awards

by | May 18, 2018 5:00 am

Last Updated: May 16, 2018 at 10:03 am

The Colleton County Historical and Preservation Society presented it’s annual preservation awards on May 10 at Orange Grove Place on Wichman Street.
The four awards were presented by Gene Varn, Charles Bridges, Debi Gilliam and Genia Floyd.
Floyd opened the ceremony with the following statement by former CCHAPS member Laura Lynn Hughes:
“In 1976, during the Bicentennial of the U.S., there was a renewed interest in the history of our nation. Small towns had struggled after World War II because big cities offered economic growth, bright lights, and job opportunities. There was mass migration from the rural areas of the South. But when the revival of history occurred, people began to realize that small towns had a treasure trove of architecture, an aura of quaintness and a soothing peacefulness that could only be found in these little “Camelots.”
“This awareness helped to organize the Walterboro Preservation Society whose main goal was to save the architecture of the town, and by 1980, the society had established two historic districts for Walterboro. Shortly after this, the Walterboro Preservation Society and Colleton Historical Society became one organization.
“By 1992, it became apparent that the community was still unaware of the historic value of the buildings that were being bought, sold and demolished; therefore, an awards program was started by the Colleton County Historical and Preservation Society. These awards were to recognize the citizens who do care about the architecture of our community. The awards cover categories such as: stewardship, rehabilitation, adaptive use, restoration, rural properties, small communities, plantation preservation, improvements to historic sites and contemporary enhancement of streetscapes.
“These awards are an expression of the society’s appreciation to all owners who have helped provide for Colleton’s visual heritage, which is exceptional for a small community. This area has suffered major disasters such as the tornado of 1879, which destroyed one-half of the town of Walterboro. The earthquake of 1886 left many buildings unstable that had to be torn down. The hurricanes of 1893 and 1959 destroyed many trees and landmarks. So this is why the lovely old houses and buildings that remain in our county must be protected and preserved and appreciated.
“So far, 126 awards have been presented to owners in Colleton County and the society thanks them for helping to preserve what is best in our community.”
The Preservation Committee consisted of Debi Gilliam, Gene Varn, Charles Bridges, and Ethan Reeves. The Enterprise Bank was sponsor for the awards.
Photographs of the properties were presented to the recipients and a copy will be kept in the files at the Historic Little Library, circa 1820.

Colleton Community Award
The Colleton Community Award was created out of a need to recognize the smaller communities in our county who tirelessly give of their time and lend financial support in order to preserve and maintain structures or sites of historical interest in their own backyards.
Colleton County has many churches, cemeteries, train depots and community buildings that are important and vital to the life of these smaller towns. Some of these beautiful churches have active memberships of less than 50 people who work to preserve these historical places of worship. Many hours and many dollars are spent out of love and devotion to these historic sites and buildings.
Therefore, the Colleton Community Award for 2018 goes to St. Vincent Hall located at 3087 Ritter Road.
Saint James the Greater Catholic Church, known as “Catholic Hill,” is situated at the crossroads of the Charleston-Savannah Highway and the old plantation road that linked Walterboro with the area where the Ashepoo and the Combahee Rivers converge and flow into the Atlantic Ocean. The parish was established by Bishop John England, the first Bishop of Charleston, and the church was dedicated by him in 1833.
In 1856, this church burned and the story of St. James fades for over 40 years. In 1897, a priest by the name of Daniel Berberich accidentally discovered the presence of Catholic people in the vicinity.
Local tradition credits a former slave, Vincent, with the preservation of the Catholic Faith in the area. His descendents are members of the parish of Saint James. Other families with direct ties to the original membership still worship each Sunday at the church. Father Berberich put into operation a plan to build a church and a school. A picture of this church and the school hangs in the rear of the church.
During the early years, dedicated women always served the parish: Diana Bolden (who was a slave 30 years and free for 60 years), Eugenia Gatewood and Ernestine Montgomery Washington — both of whom served as teachers in Saint James School, which still stands next door to the present church. The present church was built in 1935 and received the St. Bartholomew Preservation Award in the year 2000.
The school building next to St. James the Greater Church in Catholic Hill is much as it originally appeared in 1897. The interior has been completely refinished. Upstairs are three rooms: a complete kitchen, an arts and crafts room and a meeting room. Downstairs is one large area used for various parish and community activities. During renovation, salvaged lumber to be used in the project was stolen and later recovered. This did not deter the determination of this faithful community.
“Colleton County Historical and Preservation Society proudly presents the 2018 Colleton Community Award to Father Antony Benjamine, representing St. Vincent Hall. We say thank you to the small and faithful community of Ritter for being such good stewards of this important historic building that is dear to their hearts,” said Genia Floyd.

Paul and Jacob
Walter Award
The summer colony of Hickory Valley was established in 1784 by the Paul and Jacob Walter families. Seeking a climate that would be healthy, these two brothers selected sites where Bethel Presbyterian Church and the R. M. Jefferies House are today. Because Hickory Valley proved to be an excellent pineland village, more families came and some stayed year round.
As the village grew, stores opened, mills came, the Little Library was built, and the courthouse was constructed. Due to the scarcity of building materials, often structures served several purposes, thus the beginning of adaptive use — just because a building has outlived its first use, doesn’t mean that it has to be destroyed. Thankfully, there are people committed to these goals today that won’t destroy our visual heritage, but find new uses for our older buildings; therefore, the Paul and Jacob Walter Award is presented to Diane and Marco Cavazzoni for converting the Belk-Hudson building at 226 E. Washington Street into a business and residence combination.
This particular lot of land was inherited by Louetta Bennett in 1934. The store was leased to Belk-Hudson from 1936. It was then sold to Belk-Hudson in 1955. The Brattons bought the building in 1978, and it was later transferred to Susan E. Smith. Once again, it was sold to Paul T. Carter. The present day owners purchased the property in 2015.
Fond memories of the Belk-Hudson on Washington Street abound. Even in the early years, Santa Claus could be found there during the month of December to make little Colletonians’ dreams come true. There was a small home store during those years, as well as the larger clothing department.
Washington Street stores were many in number and back in the day, farmers with their families came in wagons, trucks and cars to downtown on Saturdays to do their shopping. The Belk-Hudson store also employed teenagers which was a good thing. One young man from Colleton County started out working on Washington Street and is still employed there after 43 years. He was hired by Eddie Hudson himself. A funny little story when asked about any memories of the old department store: a middle aged man said at age 5, he was running down Washington Street, not looking, and ran right into the parking meter in front of Belk-Hudson, knocking him out. He was taken into the Belk-Hudson to recuperate.
“Colleton County Historical and Preservation Society proudly presents the 2018 Paul and Jacob Walter Award to Diane and Marco Cavazzoni. Thank you for deciding to preserve this building by giving it a new function, as well as enhancing the curb-side appeal on East Washington Street with your lovely landscaping,” said Floyd.

Simon Verdier Award
The Simon Verdier Award was named to honor a French Huguenot who settled in Colleton County in early 1800. One of his lasting contributions to the area was the beautiful camellia japonica which he brought to this country from his native France.
This year the Simon Verdier Award is presented to “Miss Sallie’s School” located at 507 Wichman Street in Walterboro.
In 2001, former owner Audrey Thomas received the Walterborough Key Historic Property Award for her stewardship of the historic Elmore-Henderson House, known as “Orange Grove Place,” circa 1823. This beautiful and historic place is now owned by Sue and Doug Tilden.
Adjoining the Orange Grove property is a charming circa 1874 cottage. This building began its life as the Henderson law office and was a one-story, three-room frame building that was originally located along the sidewalk fronting Wichman Street. Built by Attorney Daniel Sullivan Henderson, it was used for his private practice of law. His brother was Dr. Edward Henderson, owner of Orange Grove Plantation and signer of the Articles of Secession of Colleton County.
After Henderson’s death, the building was converted into a private school for young ladies. Sarah Webb “Sallie” Henderson, Daniel’s sister, established the school and maintained it for many years with notable success. Miss Sallie was intelligent and a gracious lady. Her school made an imprint which is everlasting in the memories of her students.
In 1925, Alexander Fraser Henderson Jr., a prominent Walterboro banker, had the cottage rolled 300 feet back into the property and renovated into a dwelling, adding a front porch and carport. Updated in 1950 with the addition of a master bedroom and bath, knotty-pine kitchen and sunroom, the cottage has been the residence of family members and local residents over the years. The original glass panes remain intact with initials scratched by diamond stones, inscribed by former students and proving that the classrooms existed.
“The current owners, the Tildens, purchased the property in 2011 and have proved to be just the kind of historically minded citizens we treasure in our community. It is with great pleasure the Colleton County Historical and Preservation Society presents the 2018 Simon Verdier Award to Sue and Doug Tilden. Thank you for your preservation and stewardship of this historic home,” said Debi Gilliam.

St. Bartholomew’s Award
In 1706, the colony of Carolina was divided into 10 parishes to ensure that the Church of England, which was the established church at the time, would function properly. Some of the early parishes of Colleton County were: St. Bartholomew’s, St. George’s and St. Paul’s. As other counties were formed, this county became smaller, so today, Colleton County has only one parish: St. Bartholomew’s. This county has many historic sites that need to be protected and preserved, so it seems fitting that the award for preservation of historic sites should be called the St. Bartholomew’s Award.
The Colleton County Historical and Preservation Society is proud to announce that Chapman’s Fort, located on the Ashepoo River, is the recipient of this award for 2018. This historic site, located in Colleton County is being preserved by Ashepoo, LLC, and the Donnelley Family.
Chapman’s Fort, a small earthwork on the tranquil Ashepoo River, played a part in Civil War history far out of proportion to its apparent importance. This fort was used to halt the North’s invasion on May 26, 1864. In order to restrict the Federal Navy’s ability to maneuver, forts and batteries such as this one were built on rivers where they narrowed. This battle was one of the few times in military history that a field artillery battery with few men, small weapons and limited ammunition was able to prevent two enemy fleets and a 2,000-man army from accomplishing their mission. The remains of the federal gunboat “Boston” now rest beneath the Ashepoo River not far from this site.
The book “The Battle of Chapman’s Fort: May 26, 1864” was written in 1978 by Warren Ripley and privately published by The Lakeside Press in Chicago and is very informative concerning this important part of Southern history.
“The Colleton County Historical and Preservation Society is proud to present Ceara Donnelley with the St. Bartholomew Award for 2018 on behalf of Ashepoo, LLC, and the Donnelley family and says ‘thank you’ for a job well done in your preservation of a historic site,” said Charles Bridges.

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