The Story of a Wall

We were walking through an industrial part of the port of Charleston when we came upon this wall.  No indication of what it could be, so it wasn’t until I got home that I could look it up.

Charleston 149

It is part of the Bennett Rice Mill, built in 1845 and, according to the South Carolina Ports Authority, one of the “finest examples of 19th century American industrial architecture.”  It went through several owners — the rice industry died and it was sold to a peanut company; the peanut industry died and it was sold to the railroad — until it was sold to the South Carolina Ports Authority in 1958.  The SCPA then made a deal with the Historic Charleston Foundation and the Preservation Society of Charleston: we’ll secure it and you take care of it.

The building was braced but Hurricane Donna came along in 1960 and blew down most of it anyway.  All that stands now is the western façade, which the preservationists continue to monitor.

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4 Responses to The Story of a Wall

  1. That’s an odd and slightly sad story. It just looks as though it is falling down or in the midst of being demolished. You would think if it is being ‘cared for’ it would at least look tidy around there and have a signboard. There are a couple of interesting old buildings near me in Spain that I should really take pics of and post about.

    • The port authority website said that volunteers — local master masons and high schoolers — pointed the bricks sometime in the recent past. But as you say, it didn’t look very “kept.” I look the photo because it looked so odd — one clearly very old wall standing in the middle of what looked like employee parking for the port.

  2. m19flanagan says:

    I’m glad that some portion of it was preserved. It’s also an interesting commentary on how far we go to save history. In my hometown, a building was gutted by fire. The private owner wanted to rebuild/renovate. The town refused his request. The building sat through years of rain and snow and sun and cold, as the legal era flings went on and on.

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