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Lowcountry groups work to preserve historic Phillips Community

Updated: Feb. 11, 2021 at 1:15 AM EST
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CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - A group of Lowcountry non-profit organizations are working to preserve one of Charleston County’s historic African American settlement communities.

Recently, the Preservation Society of Charleston, Coastal Conservation League, and Historic Charleston Foundation received a grant to nominate the Phillips Community in Mt. Pleasant to the National Register of Historic Places.

Residents in the community say they are currently threatened by a Charleston County proposal to widen Highway 41.

Richard Habersham is the president of the Phillips Community Association and a fourth-generation resident of the community.

His great grandfather was one of the original settlers in the community.

“The county said they wouldn’t take anybody’s home but when [the road] is coming a few feet away from your doorstep and all that noise is on your doorstep, nobody wants to live like that,” Habersham said. “You have people who are landowners, are going to be land-less and some of them may become homeless because of that road.”

Some groups say settlement communities throughout the region are constantly threatened by road projects and overdevelopment.

If the community is listed on the national register, it would provide protection for projects that use federal funding. People are hopeful the recognition will also raise awareness about what’s happening in this community and others like it.

“Charleston County Council can make a decision in the near future, but we think it’s critically important that they understand that not only is this community historic, significant, important for the people who live there, but it’s also eligible to be put on the national register of historic places so it really elevates the stakes,” said Kristopher King, the executive director of the Preservation Society of Charleston.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Charleston County said, “The HWY 41 project team is currently reviewing all project comments, evaluating potential design modifications and will present to Charleston County Council to ask for feedback on the project.”

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