Preservation groups join forces to save Frogmore Lodge

emoody@beaufortgazette.comOctober 17, 2012 

Six years after local preservationists began the campaign to save the Frogmore Lodge in the Northwest Quadrant, the historic, dilapidated structure is being restored.

Work to stabilize the house at 1407 Duke St., built in 1870, could begin next week, according to Historic Beaufort Foundation interim executive director Maxine Lutz.

Preservationists say the work can't come soon enough.

"It is in very hazardous condition," said Mike Bedenbaugh of the Palmetto Trust for Historic Preservation. "Another year like it is, and it would probably be lost. ... Someone has to intervene, or it is going to disappear."

The project is the first joint venture between the foundation and the statewide nonprofit Palmetto Trust. Both are spending revolving funds, which are used to purchase, repair and resell buildings, and proceeds are applied to future restorations.

Lutz estimated it would cost about $75,000 to bring the building to sellable condition. The foundation will raise money for the repairs.

The renovation is one of several under way in the historic district in downtown Beaufort. They include St. Peter's Chapel on Carteret Street and several single-family homes within blocks of the commercial district.

The foundation bought the Frogmore Lodge last week for $15,000, an investment the Palmetto Trust is matching so immediate stabilization and restoration can begin, Bedenbaugh said.

The building was built during the phosphate-mining boom in Beaufort in the late 1800s and probably served as a boarding house, according to the foundation.

In the 1970s, Frogmore Masonic Lodge 64 bought it and used the second floor for a meeting hall until the 1990s. It is the only three-bay, gabled-front, post-Civil War house in the Northwest Quadrant.

"There was a lot of life in this building," Lutz said.

The building's disprepair is evident inside and out, and includes slipping supports for the porch roof, worn bricks and mortar, peeling and collapsed plaster, and cracked and missing wall slats. An addition in the rear has completely collapsed.

However, its second story is full of history. A dusty, tattered 1961 edition of a New World Translation of the Holy Word Scriptures was discovered on an abandoned podium. A pew, some folding chairs and several candle holders are clustered in a corner of the former meeting room.

The first steps will be to cover the roof with a tarp and prop up the porch roof, Lutz said. Subsequent work will include repairing the foundation and replacing the roof and the original two-story porch. Fallen plaster inside will be cleaned, the rear of the building waterproofed and the windows and siding repaired.

The intent is to sell it as a single-family home to someone who will complete the renovations, Bedenbaugh said. Lutz was optimistic work could be completed by next summer.

A block party is being planned to draw attention to the project, and fundraisers will also be scheduled, Lutz said.

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