City funds repairs to historic building

North Charleston has approved allocating nearly $260,000 to repair a historic but fire-damaged building identified as the last example of a Great Depression-era program that served the area decades ago.

Some of the money will also go toward repairing a nearby public dock and fishing pier on Noisette Creek that is part of North Charleston's Four Poles Park.

The building, which was located in the former North Park Village housing complex, caught fire in April. Preservationists have said it represents the last example of the trademark red-brick structures that once made up the largest public housing complex in South Carolina.

The 1,700-square-foot structure, commonly known as the old prison farm clinic, had suffered extensive damage in the blaze that later was determined to be arson.

City Council members agreed to the allocation at Wednesday's community development block grant committee meeting on grounds that North Charleston had agreed to become a steward of the historic property. Officials hope to eventually turn it into a cultural center.

The building has a lengthy history. The Civil Works Administration constructed it in 1933 as part of a federal program that used the property as a camp for unemployed veterans, and later as a National Youth Administration facility.

In 1938, it became part of a Charleston prison farm and served as the health clinic. It would gain several other local uses over time, including as a kindergarten.

When the North Charleston Housing Authority demolished the complex to make way for a new neighborhood called Horizon Village, the building was moved to the city's 6-acre Four Poles Park site on Noisette Creek at the back of the 68-acre complex site.

Wednesday's allocation isn't enough to completely refurbish the building but will help stabilize it until its future use can be determined.

The remainder of the funds will go to make repairs to the park's nearby pier, which is more than 30 years old and has fallen into poor condition.