Historians push to preserve Cainhoy Plantation

Historians push to preserve Cainhoy Plantation

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Plans for developing Cainhoy Plantation are moving forward. As they do, concerns for protecting the historic sites on the property are getting louder.

Thursday night, the City of Charleston Planning Commission approved the zoning plans in a 6-1 vote. From here, local historians are working even hard to make sure that city officials work with them to protect the sacred artifacts in the property.

"This site is so important in the history of South Carolina and the Lowcountry and it's such a huge property that we think it deserves a lot more conversation," said Kitty Robinson, CEO of Historic Charleston Foundation.

More discussion, and compromise, is what Robinson is hoping for when it comes to developing Cainhoy Plantation.

Recently, preservationist and historians toured the grounds, owned by the Guggenheim family.

"It was fascinating to go through the property," said Robinson. "The thing that struck us the most was just the vastness of the property and the wetland and the creeks, the different sections of the entire property."

Spread throughout the 9,000 acres are also dozens of historical artifacts dating back to the 1700s.

"They have cemeteries that they've identified, there's some old houses on the property that are there. There's an old road that exists on the property," said Tim Keane, Director of Planning for the City of Charleston.

Keane says they're working to not only uncover more of the archaeology, but decide how to incorporate it in their future plans.

"Some of the old houses we hope will be incorporated into parks," said Keane. "They'll be incorporated into public spaces within the community, where appropriate."

"The two churches, the St. Thomas and St. Dennis churches, which have a long and deep, important history, need to be protected," said Robinson.

The St. Thomas Church, built in 1819, is visible right off of Cainhoy Road. Robinson worries that developing too close to it could compromise it's history.

However, Keane insists they're working to prevent that by creating special church preservation areas.

"We're adding protections to the property through the zoning process, protections that don't exist today," said Keane.

However, historians and city planners are having a hard time agreeing on everything.

"We are really hopeful that the huge property can be divided into two portions, the north portion and the south portion," said Robinson.

Robinson wants the divided sections to be developed differently, especially the south section of the property which, she says, has many important cultural resources.

City planners want to keep it all in one master plan.

"We don't split it into pieces and think of it in sections - it should be done at once," said Keane.

Robinson says she hopes that they have many more opportunities to meet with city planners and community members before more plans are finalized.

The Charleston City Council is set to vote on the initial zoning plan, this coming Tuesday.

Keane says that they tend to side with the planning commission and he's hopeful that city council members will pass their zoning plan.

If City Council passes the development plan, the next step will be designing phase one which includes plans for building a new road and high school off Clements Ferry Road.

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