From staff reports
Community Foundation of the Lowcountry has received a $487,000 grant from the Department of the Interior, National Park Service (NPS) funded through the Historic Preservation Fund and African American Civil Rights (AACR) grant program.
The funds will support the Community Foundation’s Second Founding of America Fund, which is undertaking three local projects: the restoration of the historic Deacon’s Study Cottage at Brick Baptist Church on St. Helena Island within the Penn School Historic Landmark District; the restoration of the foundation of the Grand Army Hall of the Republic; and the restoration of a freedman’s cottage both of which are in downtown Beaufort’s Historic Landmark District.
In total, the AACR grant program has funded $15.7 million for projects across the United States. With these funds, organizations and agencies conserve significant U.S. cultural and historic resources, which illustrate, interpret, and are associated with the great events, ideas, and individuals that contribute to our nation’s history and culture.
“As we work with The Second Founding of America Fund, we are delighted to serve as their partner and fiscal agent as they work to restore these important historic structures,” President and CEO of Community Foundation of the Lowcountry Scott Wierman said in a release. “These structures serve as instruments for the pubic to learn the often-lost stories of the Reconstruction Era, which started in Beaufort County in 1861, and where Reconstruction likely lasted longer than any other place.”
“In addition to collaborative community outreach and educational programming, Second Founding of America is a designated philanthropic partner with the Reconstruction Era National Historical Park and the Reconstruction Era Historic Network,” said former Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling, who founded Second Founding of America.
“One of our principal goals it to help grow and sustain the Reconstruction Era National Historical Park and to help uncover and tell the many stories that will be discovered by students and communities in Beaufort County and across the region,” Keyserling continued. “While we intend to help identify and interpret sites throughout the county, state and region, the logical place to start is with properties adjacent to the Reconstruction Era National Park, which are in two of the state’s four Historic Landmark Districts.”
Keyserling said additional support has come from Beaufort County Council’s Accommodations Tax fund, individuals, corporations, SC Humanities, and SC Department of Archives and History.
“But we have a long way to go to ensure that Beaufort County is not only the home of the Reconstruction Era National Historical Park, but also the center of developing educational initiatives in South Carolina and beyond,” Keyserling said.
Second Founding of America is providing $106,000 as a match to the National Park Service award. According to Keyserling, the funding is in place for this match and they are working to raise additional funds to save and open to the public other structures that represent the Reconstruction Era. Keyserling says this is a particularly important chapter of American History because it has often been left out of textbooks and classrooms.