Saving historic Charleston smokestacks to cost $3 million

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina city task force recommends that two towering historic smokestacks at a community center should be preserved — an effort that would require raising $1.5 million through fundraising efforts.

The Post and Courier in Charleston reports that the stacks are 135 feet (41 meters) tall. They are located at the St. Julian Devine Community Center in Charleston's East Side community.

Some task force members have suggested creating a GoFundMe page to seek donations to preserve the stacks, which once had been destined for demolition.

The smokestacks have become structurally unsound and a threat to nearby structures. But historic groups want them saved. The smokestacks once served a city garbage incinerator in the majority-Black community. The groups say they are an important part of the city’s historic skyline.

But it's an expensive proposition at a time when the economy and government finances are hurt by the coronavirus pandemic. The city plans to pay half the estimated $3 million cost of preserving the stacks, although so far it has set aside only $700,000.

“We’re going to have cut something to make up that $1.5 million,” Councilman Robert Mitchell said Wednesday at a meeting of the St. Julian Devine Community Center Smokestack Task Force.

Representatives of the Preservation Society of Charleston and the Historic Charleston Foundation said they couldn’t commit to any specific amount of support. But they said the organizations would work to raise money.