New community center opens in North Charleston

“I remember when Dorchester Road was dirt,” says Tommy Evans Jr. (right), as he waits in line while his brother, Alvie Evans, serves himself at a reception following the dedication of a new North Charleston community center named after their father last week.

Another North Charleston neighborhood has a new community center.

The Thomas M. Evans Sr. Community Center opened last week at 7801 Dorchester Road. It’s named after a man who built many of the nearby neighborhoods.

“No matter where you go, there’s a neighborhood developed by the Evans family,” Mayor Keith Summey told about 80 people who turned out for the dedication.

The city bought the land from Doorway Baptist Church with $220,000 from the Greenbelt money from the half-cent sales tax, according to Shannon Praete, the city’s grants manager. The 1.2 acres also includes space for a playground between the center and the church.

The building was designed by Coast Architects. Coward Hund Construction was the builder.

This is the city’s 20th community center. It’s part of an ongoing effort to revitalize older neighborhoods.

“Our community centers are the heartbeat of the community,” Parks Director Ed Barfield told the crowd.

Summey made the appearance despite getting out of the hospital for knee surgery just two days earlier, because he didn’t want to miss the chance to honor the Evans family.

The elder Evans died in 1980, but sons Tommy and Alvie are carrying on the building business. A third son, Richard Evans, is in the heating and air-conditioning business. A daughter, Libby, is married to former City Council member and former interim mayor Ken McClure. All four children attended the dedication, as did the elder Evans’ widow, Gertrude Garris Evans.

Thomas Evans started building in North Charleston in the 1940s. His first development was Brentwood. It was followed by New Waylyn, North Cameron Terrace, Springfield, Glyn Terrace, Evanston Estates, Ashley Villas, Shaftsbury, Forest Hills and Woodside Manor, according to the program handed out at the dedication.

The Rev. Rob Dewey of the Coastal Crisis Chaplaincy gave the invocation. The ribbon-cutting ceremony was followed by a meal in the main room, which has hardwood floors and big windows facing Dorchester Road. “I think it’s wonderful,” said Tom Reiss, who rode his bicycle from the nearby Forest Hills neighborhood. He said he looks forward to attending association meetings in the new center.

Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553.