A new version of Historic Beaufort Foundation's 2002 "Success" brochure has just been printed under the title "Historic Beaufort Foundation Saves." As she did with the earlier pamphlet, local graphic artist Louise Coleman has encapsulated the Foundation's 40-plus years of hands-on preservation in an eight-panel publication that illustrates before and after photos of a dozen of the foundation's most significant saves.
Starting with the Verdier House on Bay Street and ending with the stabilization of the McGrath-Scheper House on North Street, the brochure states: "Without Historic Beaufort Foundation, Beaufort would be a very different place."
It's a fact that we all take for granted, but when the dozen sites are shown side-by-side even those who have been in the trenches in the rescue of these buildings are impressed.
All the structures have stories to tell. There is even one "save" that didn't make it. The Steinmeyer House sat since the turn of the 18th to the 19th century at the corner of Washington and New streets. It was threatened with demolition in order to make way for another Historic Beaufort Foundation "save," the Trescot House. But once the Steinmeyer House was moved to the 800 block of Prince Street, between the Miles Brewton Sams House and Wesley United Methodist Church (the site of a beautiful croquet lawn today), it mysteriously burned with flames taking the beautiful interior moldings that rivaled those at the Verdier House.
The rescue of the Trescot House is one of the most interesting stories in the Foundation's history of rescuing historic structures. It was originally built circa 1860 on Barnwell Island in the Whale Branch River by William Henry Trescot, historian and diplomat in the years leading up to the Civil War. Ten years after the war, Col. William Elliott bought the house for less than $300 -- which Trescot was happy to receive -- and dismantled and moved it by barge to Bay Street where the Wells Fargo bank now stands next to the George Parsons Elliott House.
Years later, the house became work/living space when it was occupied and renovated as a physician's home and office. In 1975, the foundation was instrumental in negotiating with the Bank of Beaufort, which wanted to build on the site, to get the house in private hands. One plan had been to float it once again by barge, this time to Port Royal, to use it as a home for wayward youth. Instead Mr. and Mrs. Jack Treanor bought it and restored it at 500 Washington St. in the Point.
Today the house belongs to a large, active family who in the past has generously opened it to the public during the Fall Festival of Houses & Gardens. Solid as a rock, the house is an enduring testimony to Beaufort's enduring architecture.
Stop by the Verdier House and pick up a copy of the new brochure. You will be impressed too.
Maxine Lutz is the interim executive director of Historic Beaufort Foundation.