Port Royal Elementary takes next step toward national historic landmark

sbowman@beaufortgazette.comNovember 19, 2013 

The century-old Port Royal Elementary School has long been considered a town landmark, and now only one hurdle remains before the school's historic status is nationally recognized.

Last week, the 15-member S.C. Board of Review for the National Register of Historic Places unanimously approved the elementary school's nomination for placement on the list.

The review board of architects, historians, archaeologists and public officials from across the state sent its nomination to the U.S. National Park Service for a final decision.

The national nomination effort is being coordinated by the town of Port Royal, the Historic Port Royal Foundation and the Beaufort County Board of Education.

"The town of Port Royal has driven the nomination process, and our school board members have been more than pleased to assist however we could," school board Chairman Bill Evans said. "It's tremendously encouraging to see the pride that the town takes in its school."

The exact opening date of the school on the town's main avenue is uncertain.

The handwritten deed transferring the property to the school district from the town is dated September 1910, according to district spokesman Jim Foster. The building's cornerstone indicates it was constructed in 1911. When it opened, it had three classrooms, as well as a library with three bookshelves, Foster said.

The school celebrated its 100th birthday in 2011. It is considered the oldest school in the district still in use since Daufuskie Elementary students were transferred to the Hilton Head Island School for the Creative Arts.

Port Royal Councilman Joe Lee said in a district news release that the state review board's vote was a big step in the process toward national recognition.

The register is the official list of the nation's historic places worthy of preservation, according to the National Park Service. The sites are evaluated by age, how similar they look to their original appearance and their association with significant events and activities.

There are more than 80,000 sites on the list from all over the country. Of those sites, 70 are in Beaufort County and six are in Port Royal. They include Fort Frederick, the Union Church of Port Royal and the F.W. Scheper Store.

"We're excited to have made it to this point," Lee said in the release. "The facility is so deserving, and being able to keep this process moving to the national level is a proud moment for the Port Royal community."

Video: Port Royal Elementary School vies for National Register of Historic Places (1:59)

Port Royal Elementary School, which was built in 1911, was approved at the state level to be nominated for placement on the National Register of Historic Places.

Follow reporter Sarah Bowman on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Sarah.

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