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A Friend of SCAD’s Architectural History Department, A Supporter of the Savannah and the Lowcountry Initiative / Beaufort’s Loss is Charleston’s Gain

April 16, 2010
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April 12, 2010

PRESS RELEASE

HBF Executive Director to Move to Prestigious Preservation Position in Charleston

Historic Beaufort Foundation has announced that Evan Thompson, executive director since 2004, will leave May 4th to take the position of executive director of the Preservation Society of Charleston. The Charleston group is the country’s oldest community-based historic preservation organization, having been founded in 1920.

Under Thompson’s leadership, the Foundation made significant preservation gains in the National Historic Landmark District and other sites in Beaufort County. Perhaps most notably, Thompson was responsible for managing a Save America’s Treasures grant project with funding from the National Park Service, the City of Beaufort and Beaufort County to address serious structural issues at the city-owned Arsenal. The more-than $600,000 project, which was completed in 2009, took five years from inception and left the Arsenal in the best structural condition it’s ever been in.

Most recently, Thompson authored 100 recommendations from the Northwest Quadrant Study Group for rehabilitation of the neighborhood that were accepted as goals by Beaufort’s city council. Among them was the recommendation for clean-up days in the neighborhood that the city, HBF and the neighborhood association enacted.

A researcher, Thompson’s contributions to the architectural history of Beaufort have been noteworthy. Known for his investigative skills, Thompson is credited with the discovery of Beaufort’s only-known surviving antebellum office, the Edmund Rhett Law Office owned by one of the fathers of the Secession Movement. Through his documentary and architectural inquiry, the office was revealed to have been raised to sit nearly unchanged atop an early 20th century building. When the structurally deficient ground floor was to be torn down, the office was moved intact by its owner.

Thompson has brought graduate students in historic preservation from the College of William & Mary and Savannah College of Art & Design for the past five years to conduct measured drawings of Beaufort County’s antebellum structures, its historic storefronts, farm buildings, African-American churches and other sites. This documentation is critical for rebuilding the structures if they are lost and for the historical record.

Other preservation accomplishments achieved by HBF under Thompson include:

  • Historic paint analysis conducted on the Verdier House with fundraising to paint its exterior, reproduce its wooden shutters, and soon to replace the wood shake roof, all to the appearance of its Civil War lifespan.
  • Stabilization of the ca. 1852 McGrath-Scheper House, an architecturally distinctive small house that had been neglected by its owners and was in danger of collapse.
  • Restoration of a ca. 1880s freedman cottage in the Northwest Quadrant that was sold as affordable housing.
  • Restoration of the Smalls-Nash Cottage, most recently home to Robert Smalls great-great granddaughter.
  • Fundraising and oversight of the restoration of the ca. 1890 Sons of Beaufort Lodge, Beaufort’s only fraternal lodge still in active use
  • The preservation of the Beaufort Volunteer Artillery flag, securing a future stream of funds for preservation through negotiations with the trustees of Orange Grove Place in Walterboro and his role at the Historic District Review Board representing the Foundation.

Thompson came to the Lowcountry as an intern with Historic Charleston Foundation in 2003 after receiving his law degree from The University of Texas School of Law. He will begin work at the Preservation Society on June 1st.

For More Information, Contact:

Maxine Lutz

Historic Beaufort Foundation

phone: (843) 379-3331

fax: (843) 379-3371

email: mlutz@historicbeaufort.org

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