This Lowe’s Community Improvement Grant Program project took place at 605 West Street in the historic downtown of Beaufort, S.C. It was unique in that it aimed to meet the needs of an individual property owner and beautify a streetscape and neighborhood. The goals of this project were to both help an individual begin to restore his historic home (c. 1880) that had been struck by a tree limb, while also creating an example for the community of how one intervention can make a huge impact on a street and neighborhood. (See video below.)
The owner of this house is legally blind, and had been living for months with a caved-in porch roof. The yard was filled with debris, including the rest of the dead tree. Along the front of the year, a chain-link fence and gate spray-painted orange to help him find the entry was accessed by a make-shift concrete ramp, poured and re-poured over time. Chain-link fence also lined the perimeter of the property, but none of it was actually located on the true property lines. It was overgrown with weeds and small brushy trees.
On Sept. 21, a team of nearly 40 people gathered for 12 hours to work on this project. This was a true community effort and included over 30 Lowe’s Heroes and Marine Corps Air Station volunteers, as well as volunteers from the City of Beaufort, Historic Beaufort Foundation and the Old Commons Neighborhood Association. The construction was coordinated by City Councilman Mike Sutton, whose business specializes in historic preservation construction.
This ambitious project removed the non-historic dilapidated porch, stabilized the side façade and repainted it to match the rest of the house. In addition, the volunteers removed the large dead tree and associated debris, removed the front chain-link fence, installed a proper retaining wall to accommodate the change in grade, installed a “living fence” planted with Carolina Jasmine and lit with solar lights to help the owner find his way. They also landscaped the front and side foundation and fence line visible from the street, relocated the remaining 300 feet of fence to align with the property line, and generally cleaned up all weeds and debris from the yard.
Because a primary goal was to have a positive impact on the streetscape, the majority of the aesthetic focus was put on the front fence and landscaping improvements. This was a significant challenge, as the majority of the front yard between the street and the house had been poured with concrete. Finding a simple, cost-effective, aesthetically-pleasing solution that would blend into the historic neighborhood was our biggest design challenge, but ended up to be one of the biggest successes of the project.