Board of Architectural Review votes down demolition of historic Henry P. Archer School

Board of Architectural Review votes down demolition of historic Henry P. Archer School

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The City of Charleston's Board of Architectural Review voted down the demolition of the Henry P. Archer School.

Board members said they would consider demolition for parts of the school not built in the 1930s at a later date. That's only if they receive full access to the site.

The school is a vacant historic school building on Nassau Street in downtown Charleston.

Some people who live near the school were worried that it might be torn down.

Right now, the property is owned by the Charleston County School District but the City of Charleston is considering purchasing it to convert it to affordable housing.

There are no building plans for the site yet.

City officials say the City Council Real Estate Committee was asking the city's planning department to seek a ruling from the Board of Architectural Review on what parts of the school could be demolished for affordable housing.

They want to get an idea of what can be done to the property before the city purchases it for about $3 million.

The president of the Eastside Neighborhood Association known as the Eastside Community Development Corporation, Latonya Gamble, says people in the neighborhood came up with the idea to renovate the building into affordable housing which some support if it's affordable for all.

"We hope that it's going to be affordable housing and when I say affordable housing, affordable for all, not just firemen and teachers like they like to quote," Gamble said.

However she doesn't want to see the building torn down, but renovated instead.Gamble says she was disturbed to find out that it was being considered for demolition.

"I know most of the community people have gone to the school but I'm thinking about the architecture," Gamble said. "We have to set some type of boundaries. Either we are going to preserve our historical buddings or we're not. I don't know how they determine which historical buildings should be saved and which ones shouldn't be."

Franklin Williams who lives in the Charleston area has other ideas for the building.

"We possibly could be looking at another salvageable building for the community, so that we can educate our youth, bring a little bit more skills,needed skills, to Charleston, South Carolina since we have all these industries here with the Boeing and the BMW Plant and the Volvo plant," Williams said.

He questions the affordable housing that could come.

"Affordable housing for who?" Williams said. "They've already ran us out."

Charleston County School District officials say the school was built in 1935 and closed as a school that was open on a regular basis in 1981.

The last time it was occupied was when Sanders Clyde Elementary School used it in 2009 until the new school was completed.

The parking lot of the Archer School also served as a lot for a few buses for the Charleston School for Math and Science.

City of Charleston officials say the legal department is reviewing a possible deal they could have with the Charleston County School District if they purchase the site.

It could require that at least 30 percent of new units be set aside for district employees at affordable rates.

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