S’ville delays vote on Teacherage

File/Brad Nettles/Staff Town Council tabled discussion of selling the historic Teacherage in a unanimous vote, and gave Mayor Bill Collins a month to come up with a business plan for it, before council decides on a possible sale.

SUMMERVILLE — Sharon Hawkins is new to the town, but her plea for the Teacherage on Wednesday went right to its heart.

She is looking for a venue for her daughter’s wedding, she said, “a place where people (who attend) can experience what we’ve experienced since we’ve been in Summerville, something that represents the town.”

She hasn’t found that place, and the Teacherage would have been it if it were open, she said. A little while later, Town Council tabled discussion of selling the historic house in a unanimous vote, and gave Mayor Bill Collins a month to come up with a business plan for it, before council decides on a possible sale.

Collins is to present the plan at the council’s August retreat.

Hawkins’ plea was one of a mixed bag of comments from a few residents and business owners.

But she set the tone for the council, most of whose members have deep roots in the town and a love for it.

The Teacherage is a 19th-century home with garden grounds spilling into the town’s signature Azalea Park. Also known as the Berry House, the property is called the Teacherage because it was bought by the local school district in the 1940s to house single, out-of-town teachers.

The town bought the property for $700,000 under a previous council, because the history and location give it the potential to house a museum or some other tourism draw and be used for special events.

The recession hit in 2008, not long after the house was bought, slowing efforts to restore or develop uses for it. Selling it now might well mean selling at a loss. The current council is at odds over whether to sell. Some council members said the town should not compete with local private business venues.

But council members generally agree they want to preserve the historic property.

Reach Bo Petersen at 937-5744.

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