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AFRICAN AMERICAN HERITAGE PROGRAM

Our African-American Heritage Program works to advance the broader preservation movement towards a more diverse and equitable representation of American history. 

By the time of the American Revolution, South Carolina was the richest of any of the colonies, and by a wide margin at that. The number of enslaved people would ensure that South Carolina would be at the center of future American history, including the Civil War, the Reconstruction Era, the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, Jim Crow, and Brown vs. Board of Education. Many of the landmarks associated with these eras are either gone or at risk.

We have helped save historically significant landmarks associated with all of the eras associated with Black South Carolina history, including work on Daufuskie Island.

Barely a dozen people descended from the original Gullah inhabitants still live on Daufuskie. Most of the historic homes and cottages, unique in design to the Gullah communities, are abandoned. All those that remain are listed as contributing properties in the National Register of Historic Places.

For nearly a decade, we have worked with Gullah descendants to restore some of the original houses for use as rental cottages, such as the 1865 Frances Jones House (above), but at the same time allowing the original families to retain ownership under a long-term lease arrangement with Preservation South Carolina.

PAST PROJECTS

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Frances Jones House

Daufuskie Island, Beaufort County

 The Frances Jones house is a small 950 square foot vernacular dwelling that dates from 1865 with additions from the 1890s. Ms. Frances was a born leader for the people on the island. Born in 1903, Ms. Frances was the elementary school teacher for 39 years, and then went on to head many social programs to help the island natives. Ms. Frances passed away in 2001 and her home was abandoned. Preservation SC, in cooperation with the heirs, signed a lease with a mission to invest grant funds to fully restore the house. A $150,000 grant was received from the 1772 Foundation and restoration was underway. After 10 months of construction, Ms. Frances's home is once again the “haint blue” she so loved. Presently, it is the home of a former student of Ms. Frances and island native, Sallie Ann Robinson.

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Good Hope Baptist Church

Eastover, Richland County

Listed in the National Register 1986. 

Located in the Sandhills of Richland County, Good Hope Baptist is one of the few remaining antebellum churches in lower Richland. Built in 1857, the church was worshiped by the rural elite and enslaved African Americans. 

In 2019, Preservation South Carolina purchased the property with an intent of finding preservation-minded owners. In just three months, a buyer was found. A local black congregation in need of a place to worship, made the property their worship space.

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Slave Cabin at Laurelwood Plantation

Eastover, Richland County

Listed in the National Register 1986. 

Laurelwood is one of the few remaining antebellum plantation houses in lower Richland County. Constructed circa 1830, this building has all of the attributes of a Greek-revival building. Even more significant is the intact slave dwelling on the property. 

 

In 2012, in coordination with the property owners, Preservation SC was able to attain grant funding from the Richland County Conservation Commission to restore the cabin. In just one year, the project was complete.

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Jessemine & Orchard Cottage 

Penn Center, Beaufort County

Listed in the National Register 1974. 

Penn Center was formed in 1862 as a school for freed slaves committed to education, welfare, and heritage. The founders were members of a group of northern missionaries and abolitionists who Camden to St. Helena Island after the Civil War. For 100 years, the institution remained strong. Although the school closed in 1948, the buildings and history remain. The site is used as a community center to promote and preserve Penn’s true history and culture through its commitment to education, community development, and social justice.

 

As a part of those efforts, Preservation SC holds Preservation Easements on Jessemine and Orchard Cottage, both of which were used as classrooms while Penn Center was operating.

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