DAR Presents Miller with Preservation Medal


The Colonel Joseph Glover Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution presented Dr. Sarah Miller the DAR National Excellence in Historic Preservation Medal at its May 15 annual luncheon.

Dr. Miller is a professor of history at the University of South Carolina Salkehatchie Campus.   In addition to being a popular and well-respected professor, through her role as professor she has supervised many students in courses that involved independent research related to South Carolina History and preservation.

Since moving to SC in 2006, she has been a member of Colleton County Historical and Preservation Society (CCHAPS) and has served as either President or non-voting historian for that entire 17 years.  She has worked diligently with that organization to restore the Little Library in Walterboro.  She and CCHAPS also have preserved the Bedon-Lucas House.  Both buildings were built in 1820 and have been restored to excellent condition.

In 2021- 2022 she partnered with George Wingard of the Savannah River Archeological Research Program to produce two films on restored historic buildings on the Salkehatchie Campus. The two were “On with the Show: a History of the One Hundred Years of the Carolina Theatre, Allendale, SC” and “The Hut: A Legacy of the Works Progress Administration, Allendale, SC”.  Both films premiered in the historic Carolina Theatre during the South Carolina Humanities Festival hosted by Allendale County in 2022.

Perhaps her most significant project has been the Pon Pon Chapel of Ease in Colleton County.  The chapel was first built as a wooden structure in 1725 but after a hurricane destroyed the building, it was rebuilt with brick in 1754.  The brick corners of the remaining structure are original.  The Pon Pon Chapel of Ease was damaged during the American Revolution and again during a forest fire in 1801.  The chapel was rebuilt in 1819-1822 but appears to have been unused and damaged after 1832.  The ruin, however, remained an important aspect to St. Bartholomew’s Parish. Without a parish church, the Pon Pon Chapel continued to be the civil center and location for all voting in the parish.    The chapel ruin was damaged further during Hurricane Gracie in 1959 when a tree fell through the front façade.  This was rebuilt during the bicentennial.  Unfortunately, the top of the front façade fell again on July 4, 2020.    Dr. Miller has worked diligently to preserve this landmark through her own research, mentoring student research, and grant writing.  The University of South Carolina has supported this research with two RISE grants (faculty summer salary), two Magellan grants (student research), a PURE grant (mentoring summer research), and an Independent Study.  Dr. Miller’s first partnership with George Wingard of the Savannah River Archeological Research Program produced an award-winning documentary about Pon Pon.  The documentary was shown at two professional conferences, several film festivals, nearly 20 community showings and presentations, and on Beaufort Public Television.  The film debuted at the Colleton Civic Center in October of 2018 in a Red-Carpet Event sponsored by the South Carolina Humanities Council.  In 2022, Dr. Miller and CCHAPS submitted a funding request to the SC State Legislature for the Preservation and Stabilization of Pon Pon Chapel of Ease.  This effort resulted in $1.25 million in funding for Pon Pon from the state of South Carolina.

At the May 15 luncheon, Dr. Miller was presented the medal by Chapter Regent, Jan Ulmer.  In addition, Bill Young, Mayor of Walterboro, presented Dr. Miller with a City of Walterboro Resolution commending her on this honor and naming May 15 as Dr. Sarah Miller Day in Walterboro. Other dignitaries present were Deb Gilliam, President of CCHAPS; JoAnne Boone, DAR State Chair for Historic Preservation.