The ruins of the Parthenon it is not.
Nor is it an ancestral home tragically lost to fire -- war's or otherwise. It didn't even exist when Sherman scorched his way through the area.
Still, it is uniquely ours.
Only in Beaufort is a factory built in the early 20th century -- and for decades now beyond repair or use -- still celebrated.
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In fact, that factory is now on the National Historic Register, despite the fact that no one can even agree what to call it.
In its early days, it was called the Seacoast Packing Company building.
If you've been here long enough, you might know it as the "Pig Factory" or "The Slaughter House."
For the last fifty or so years, it's been known as the somewhat less ominous "Old Pickle Factory," an appropriate name since it's located at 100 Dill Drive.
The history of the building -- and its long line of opportunities missed-- is fascinating.
Built as a meat-packing plant in 1921, it failed before it started and sat vacant for seven years. The idea was it would serve as a processing plant for local livestock farmers. The plan was to sell company stock subscriptions, but the depressed local economy prevented any from ever being paid in full.
That doesn't mean the building didn't have other lives and incarnations. After all, nothing born in 1921 and still alive today is the same as it was then.
It served as a storage facility for groceries, a tomato-canning plant and, of course, a pickle-packing facility.
At one point, it also stored lumber for the Kinghorn Brothers Company.
By 1980 it was all but abandoned, a solidly-built concrete warehouse with no wares to house. Despite its long time but short-term uses, it remains one of the only industrial buildings within the city limits.
The fire department has used it for practice on controlled burns.
Aspiring artists have added graffiti to its decaying walls.
A decade ago, there were even plans -- unrealized -- to convert it into apartments.
Its location along the old Charleston and Western Carolina Railroad line was intentional, and it remains a highly-visible destination along the Spanish Moss Trail.
It is as haunted by what it could have been -- a viable economic force in the post-Cotton Era South -- as by what it ever was.
And it still beckons to some of us, despite the many "No Trespassing" signs spray-painted on the sides.
As a boy growing up in the 1980s, I found it an irresistible location for adventure. It had everything a boy -- in this case me -- could ask for: dark, empty stairwells, a caved-in roof that opened to the sky above and an outdoor ramp tailor-made for bicycle daredevils.
Taken as a whole, it was enticing enough that a grandmother's plea to stay away went unheeded.
For many of us, the Old Pickle Factory will always be culturally and historically (if not always aesthetically) pleasing.
It speaks to our hearts rather than our eyes.
Ryan Copeland is a Beaufort native. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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