Seven properties in South Carolina have recently been added to the National Register of Historic Places, including a Charleston mansion that operated as a hotel for African American patrons during the Jim Crow era.
From 1920 to 1932, the three-story structure in Charleston's East Side neighborhood was the Hametic Hotel, the only commercial lodging for black travelers during its years of operation, according to city records.
Located at the corner of East Bay and Amherst Streets, the building, known as the Faber House, was completed between 1836 and 1840 and designed in the Early Classical Revival style. For several decades, it served as a private residence for some of Charleston's wealthiest families.
When it operated as a hotel, it had 25 guest rooms as well as a parlor, a reception hall and a dining room. In addition to housing travelers, it also became a space for the African American community to hold special events and dances.
According to the nomination submitted to the National Register, W.E.B. Du Bois, a prominent author and activist who helped to found the NAACP, stayed at the property during a visit to Charleston.
But by the early 1930s, business at the hotel had been hurt by the Great Depression and by a decline in customers as more African Americans moved out of the South.
In the 1960s, the Historic Charleston Foundation intervened when it appeared that the Charleston Housing Authority, which owned the property at the time, would demolish it to use the land for a low-income housing project.
Several years later, the Faber House was sold to Charleston businessman and politician Arthur Ravenel, Jr. The building has stayed in the Ravenel family, and a rehabilitation project on the structure is underway now.
One other Charleston property was recently added to the National Register. The Giovanni Sottile House on Rutledge Avenue, built in the early 19th century, once belonged to an Italian consular agent to Charleston.
Sottile, who was born in Sicily, advocated for Italian American immigrants in the area. Charleston's Italian population was small, particularly before the Civil War, but had grown to about 300 people by the time Sottile was living in his Rutledge Avenue residence in the early 1900s.
The other South Carolina properties added this spring include an AME church in Bluffton, a 1960s-era motel in Myrtle Beach, a historic home in Quinby, a black-owned doctor's office in Columbia and Columbia's Five Points district.
As of this year, the National Park Service has overseen the addition of more than 95,000 properties to the National Register of Historic Places since the list was established in 1966.
Being listed on the National Register is the first step toward qualifying for the federal preservation tax credits that are administered by the National Park Service.
The listing can also qualify a property for other opportunities specific to its location. For example, in Charleston, homes in the peninsula's Historic District have to be named on the National Register in order to legally be operated as short-term rentals.