Beefield community designated as Charleston County historic district

Published: Jun. 6, 2022 at 4:27 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 6, 2022 at 7:46 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Beefield community, an African American settlement community, has been designated as a historic district in Charleston County.

The neighborhood, located off Folly Road on James Island, is the second community in the county to receive the designation.

According to the Historic Charleston Foundation, the Beefield community was purchased by a group of African American families following the Civil War in the late 1860s. Two battles associated with the Civil War took place on the land.

The land has been passed down to the families that still live there today, including resident George Richardson, who is the president of the Battery Island Neighborhood Association.

“When you walk through my community, you get this feeling of what I refer to quite frequently as a land that time forgot. And we like that,” Richardson said. “We have a dirt road where if you were to walk down it, you get this feeling like you’re back in time. You don’t even remember that there’s a Folly Road out there with a lot of traffic.”

The small, older community was facing the pressures of development, so when Richardson saw the Phillips community in Mount Pleasant receive the first historic district designation in the county, he said he realized that his neighborhood could be qualified to have that title as well.

He began working on the process in July 2021.

After months of work, Charleston County Council approved the designation. The designation gives a little bit of assistance in protecting the community. Any time there’s going to be new construction, a demolition or a zoning change they have to go before the Charleston County Historic Preservation Commission.

“That just kind of makes sure that anything that’s going to be built there or demolished is doing so with careful review and won’t district from the historic importance of the neighborhood,” said Justin Schwebler, properties manager with the Historic Charleston Foundation.

Schwebler and the Historic Charleston Foundation worked on the application with Richardson for months.

Both Schwebler and Richardson say they hope this will inspire other communities to apply for the designation, too.

“A lot of things are going on, and unfortunately the things that are going on is affecting Black history, the communities,” Richardson said. “I like the fact that someone recognized that Black history communities are being lost in the shuffle, and so therefore this is a way to preserve some of what we’ve already lost.”

On Tuesday night, Charleston County Council will take up the second reading for Ten Mile, between Mount Pleasant and Awendaw, to become a historic district. The Historic Charleston Foundation also said that the Red Top community in West Ashley is in the preliminary stages of applying to become a historic district in Charleston County after facing a lot of developmental pressure.

“These folks are getting pushed out and displaced,” Schwebler said. “So, it’s nice to see these communities stepping up and we hope that more of them do.”

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