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Mike Bedenbaugh to retire from Preservation SC

Letter from Mike

Mike Bedenbaugh to retire from Preservation SC

Dear Friends and preservation colleagues far and wide,

It is with very mixed feelings that I wish to share the news that I am stepping down as President of Preservation South Carolina, a position I have held since 2007. As some of you may know, my father died a few months ago, effectively meaning that I now need to spend far more time running our family’s business. I have tried to balance both responsibilities but have found that impossible. I have informed our board that May 31, 2021, will be my last day as executive director.

But that will not end my association with Preservation South Carolina! Though I am stepping away I will not be stepping out. I will continue to support our organization’s mission or preserving South Carolina’s historic treasures.

Beginning on June 1, I will continue to lead and/or support our organization’s important Sacred Spaces program, no better example than our very successful flagship project at Trinity Abbeville. The success of our work with that architectural Gothic-revival masterpiece had led to another restoration project that I will also “see to the finish line,” the evocative Mt. Carmel Presbyterian church in McCormick County. We have other Sacred Spaces churches in our pipeline where I may also be engaged. But even as we have work hard to save these historic churches, we have delivered preservation success across the state.

I am proud of our work at the Wolfe House, an historic home in Winnsboro. Thanks to a generous grant from the 1772 Foundation, we were able to purchase the home and then go about the job of replacing its roof. Our ability to remedy other issues with the home have been improved by our recent sale of Newberry’s Ruff Cobb House. The monies we received from the sale of that home have replenished our revolving fund, thus allowing us to further stabilize the Wolfe House.

Though the COVID pandemic has slowed down our work in Edgefield, I am thrilled at the progress we have made at the town’s namesake hotel. The once endangered property will be redeveloped as a boutique hotel, thus helping drive new investment into the town’s historic square. But that is not our only Edgefield initiative. We are also working to restore the Pottersville House, possibly the home of Abner Landrum who started the famous Edgefield Pottery in the early 19th century. We envision turning his one-time home into a visitor century, a gateway to the world of Edgefield pottery.

Even after fourteen years, I am energized by the realization that historic preservation can make such a difference to communities such as Abbeville and Edgefield. And there are also times when our work is less visible, but certainly no less important, such as the project administration and tax credit consulting skills that our organization has recently provided to the Newry Mill in Oconee County and Penn Center in Beaufort. Carolyn Coppola, our tax credit specialist, has led the work on both of those properties, and many others, during my tenure with Preservation South Carolina and will continue to do great work in the future.
As some of you may know, I enjoy hitting the road, meeting with people, and figuring out preservation related solutions. For the last four years I have done so knowing that our office was not being left in good hands, but great hands. Amy Fluette, our office administrator, has kept the records straight, she has kept me organized, and I will be forever grateful for both her work and friendship.

In the beginning of this letter, I mentioned that I had mixed feelings about stepping down from my position with Preservation South Carolina. Why shouldn’t I? The future has never been brighter.

Our Sacred Spaces program, designed to save historic churches that would otherwise be lost, has gained statewide momentum. Sometime later this summer, the most important phase of Trinity Abbeville will complete. Four years ago, rain was pouring into the sanctuary, the steeple was leaning, and the doors were locked, all conditions that have now been remedied. The doors have again opened, the number one tourist attraction for the town saved. Amen! Can I hear a second Amen for Mt Carmel Presbyterian Church? Hearing of our work with Trinity, an anonymous donor donated $50,000 to our organization to restore the historic church. Like we are currently doing with Trinity Abbeville, we plan to work with local constituents to use these buildings for wedding venues, music events, and educational outreach.

Going forward, the Sacred Spaces program will be an important part of the work of Preservation South Carolina. I know that our board’s incoming Chair, Bill Fitzpatrick, looks forward to continuing our engagement with those who wish to save their historic churches.

In closing, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to the many people I have met while traveling the state. You have invited me into your communities, and for that I am thankful. You have trusted me to restore your buildings, and for that I am honored. You have allowed me into your lives and homes, and for that I am blessed. It has been quite a journey.

In the coming months, I will be wrapping-up many loose ends, including helping our organization find the best possible executive director that can lead us to the next level of service to the state.

Thank you again,

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