Wragg redo

Renovation plans for Wragg Square on Meeting Street include more open and gently sloping steps to make it more accessible. The park also would have a central fountain, more benches and plants and entrances onto Charlotte Street and Ashmead Place.

A neglected space in downtown Charleston could be heading for a revival.

The space is Wragg Square, the park behind the wrought-iron fence across Meeting Street from Marion Square.

The park is almost next to The Charleston Museum and quite near the Visitor Center. It's been city property for more than 200 years, and the old red brick wall under the fence gives an impression of something historic.

Yet most visitors don't even know it's a public space and walk on by, according to Charleston Parks Conservancy Executive Director Jim Martin, who will unveil a new vision this evening.

The park gets a lot of traffic during Spoleto each spring, when crafts vendors set up their booths under the trees outside Second Presbyterian Church. But there's not much there to draw people in the rest of the year.

In fact, the park has become a bit threadbare in recent years. The steep steps aren't particularly inviting, and the ground is barren.

That could change if residents rally behind the effort to spruce it up and make it more accessible.

"We're hoping for a plan the neighborhood can rally around," Martin said.

Getting a consensus is important because that's how most of the money will be raised. A cost estimate will be set after the plans are finalized.

Vangie Rainsford is longtime president of the Mazyck-Wraggborough Neighborhood Association, which includes the park. She had not seen the final plans Wednesday but was enthusiastic about the project.

"We're excited about it," she said. "I do think we have a challenge ahead, but I don't think it's insurmountable."

A major goal of the face-lift is to make the park more inviting, Martin said.

The steps would be rebuilt so they're not so steep, making the space more open to Meeting Street. Landscaping along the sidewalk would connect the park to the street.

Flowers and other plants would bring some year-round color. A central alley would lead to a fountain. Renderings show a square fountain, but the shape is open to change, Martin said. Lights and more benches also would be installed along the central alley.

Another path would cut across the park parallel to Meeting Street, with entrances on Charlotte Street to the south and Ashmead Place to the north. The new design would connect the park with the adjacent Joseph Manigault House, which The Charleston Museum dates to 1803.