Bea Smith of Charleston has won The Post and Courier’s Golden Pen award for February for her letter to the editor “Where are historic BAR principles?”
The letter expressed disappointment with the city’s Board of Architectural Review. As Ms. Smith wrote of a recent BAR meeting:
“Two houses were presented, both appraised at $0 and with insurmountable problems, ineligible for loans and permits, inaccessible or having no foundations, unsafe to work on, falling apart, oddities in the neighborhood, oddly raised or leaning and distinctly ‘not economic’ to rehab. Yet the board denied demolition to these hapless owners, in spite of the fact that these houses are common, plentiful and located where their demolition would help the street and have little effect on the city as a whole.”
And: “The board then lightened up on the next applicants: a business consortium eager to demolish 249 Meeting, an empty ‘Deco’ style building, in need of rehab. ... The moderator and one board member favored the request of a public commenter that the pleasing Deco facade be saved, refurbished and incorporated into the requested new hotel, keeping an authentic appearance as opposed another a no-history new face.”
Yet after “another board member moved firmly to demolish, reasoning the original form might have been worth preserving, but, since it had been ‘renovated into a Deco style in the ’50s,’ demolish,” the board voted for demolition.
The letter concluded:
“Now we seem to have an attitude of no demolition, no matter what, except for some, where it is demolition, no matter what.
“Maybe the new mission statement is: Make Charleston great for business and tourism.
“The downside of good economic times: When developers talk, preservation takes a walk.”
Golden Pen winners are invited to an annual luncheon with the editorial staff.