Warehouse district should be on historic register
Preservation survey finds enough resources to make East End portion a historic district
Saturday February 22, 2003
By Martyn Chase
The East End warehouse district should be designated a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places, according to a survey done for Charleston Renaissance.
Michael Gioulis, a historic preservation consultant, presented the results of the survey at the Charleston Renaissance monthly meeting Friday.
He concluded there were enough historic resources in the warehouse district to merit moving ahead with discussions on that possibility.
The warehouse district covers the area from Interstate 64 on the north end from Capitol Street to Laidley Field, most buildings on both sides of Smith Street, and extends at some points up to Washington Street.
A short portion of Leon Sullivan Way and Brooks Street to the west of Smith Street was also included in the survey in order to encompass more of the warehouses and commercial resources in the area.
“We wanted to know if there were adequate historic resources to merit discussion of a potential [historic] district,” said Susie Salisbury, executive director of Charleston Renaissance.
To qualify for historic status, a building must be at least 50 years old.
Designation for the National Register can be an important factor in getting federal grant money for economic development.
It also presents opportunities for owners of properties in a designated district to be eligible for a 20 percent federal tax credit and a 10 percent state tax credit for rehabilitation work.
“Listing on the National Register is a very long process,” Patrick A. Bond, president of Charleston Renaissance said. “By having a district already set up and already recognized, it facilitates that process.”
Gioulis’ report said it was expected that the area would contain primarily late 19th century and early 20th century commercial resources. “This was found to be the case,” the report said. “There were modifications and modern resources found, but not as many as the consultant team expected.”
“What we did over the last nine months was a historic research survey in the warehouse district,” Gioulis told the meeting.
The area consists primarily of industrial sites, office buildings, warehouse and storage facilities with a few small enclaves of residential buildings, he said.
The survey covered 52 acres, 97 surveyed sites and 113 total resources.
Gioulis divided the resources, or the buildings and structures, into those which could be considered “contributing” to historic preservation and those which didn’t fit that definition.
Among the significant resources pinpointed in the warehouse district:
The Harden Gilmore House on Leon Sullivan Way. It’s a Colonial Revival style residence and is already listed individually on the National Register. It was the home of Elizabeth Harden Gilmore, the first African-American funeral director. It is now vacant.
The AEP Building on Brooks Street behind the Chevron station and across from CAMC. It was built around 1930 and is the only Colonial Revival style commercial building in the survey area.
The former Southern Chemical Co. building, near Laidley Field, cited as a good example of late 1940’s art deco architecture.
The Kyle Furniture complex on Hansford Street.
The Charmco building on Morris Street across from the site proposed for the new baseball park.
“We looked for brick detailing, recessed entrances, metal roofing” and other features indicative of a historic time period,” Gioulis said.
Most of the resources in the area were identified as “Romanesque Warehouse” style. “This is illustrated by a masonry structure with arched openings and very simple detailing,” the report noted.
“There is justification for a National Register historic district basically following the boundaries of the survey,” he concluded.
In addition, Gioulis recommended continuing the survey in adjacent areas including the commercial and residential sections along Washington Street and an area behind Laidley Field.
The next step will involve meetings with the property owners, which probably will take place within the next 60 days, according to Bond. “We’ll talk to them about the benefits [of a historic designation] and allay any fears they might have,” he said following the meeting.
To contact business editor Martyn Chase, use e-mail or call 348-5156.