— They call them ghost structures, frame skeletons of buildings that some designers use to portray lost historic homes.

At Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site, rangers wanted something subtler among the trees to convey the village that stood there.

The first footings are now down, a brick foundation and dividers suggesting the rooms of the Izard house, so visitors can step inside and imagine what it was like. The project is a pivotal step transforming the park to an interactive archaeological effort, engaging visitors with the people who lived in one of the oldest preserved inland villages in South Carolina.

With the structure, and an active dig of the Blake house nearby, Colonial Dorchester might have the only now-and-then exhibit of its kind, said S.C. Parks archaeologist Larry James.

The re-creation completed Friday is the first in a series planned by Simeon Warren of the American College of the Building Arts in Charleston as student projects. It was paid for by a grant from MeadWestvaco.

“It’s a subtle idea, how to represent an imagined space, very gently and in line with the landscape.” Warren said. “People can walk in and are drawn more and more into what used to be.”

The next project is for students to figure out how to minimally portray structures such as fireplaces, he said. The concept could be carried over to other house sites, to suggest the village.

Colonial Dorchester was one of the 1600s’ “lost towns” of inland settlement in the region. It was at one time the third largest town in the state, stretching a half-mile from a wharf on the Ashley River. Little remains above ground today besides a tabby fort and the St. George Church belltower.

Reach Bo Petersen at 937-5744.