Woods Memorial Bridge now on National Register of Historic Places

BEAUFORT, S.C. – The Woods Memorial Bridge, the iconic swing bridge connecting downtown Beaufort with Lady’s Island, was listed on theNational Register of Historic Places on Jan. 6.

The designation gives the community an opportunity to protect the bridge and potential impacts on Beaufort’s National Historic Landmark District. With the designation, any federal undertaking regarding  licensing, permitting, or funding requires a mitigating review by the State Historic Preservation Office and also requires public comment. 

“This designation is important for our City,” said Mayor Stephen Murray. “With so few working swing bridges in the state, we need to protect the ones we have. The Woods Memorial Bridge adds to Beaufort’s character, distinction and beauty, and the National Register listing recognizes that.”

“Historic Beaufort Foundation is grateful to the City of Beaufort for working toward this official recognition of the significance the Woods Bridge plays in helping Beaufort retain its unique sense of place and its association with our maritime and transportation history,” said HBF Executive Director Cynthia Cole Jenkins. “We value the six decades of partnership with the City in protecting and promoting the architectural history of Beaufort.”

The effort to win the designation began in October of 2020. It was a joint project of the City of Beaufort, under the leadership of then-Mayor Billy Keyserling, and Historic Beaufort Foundation.

The City and HBF launched a fund-raising campaign through the City’s Pride of Place Program to hire a professional preservation consultant to put together the research and paperwork necessary for the application to the National Register.

Upon learning of the listing, the consultant, Kyle Campbell of Preservation South, LLC, said, “The Woods Memorial Bridge is one of the historic resources in Beaufort that almost everyone interacts with whether they are a resident or a tourist. It has been an honor to research and prepare the National Register nomination and I hope it will continue to be a landmark for the Beaufort Community for generations to come.” 

The Woods Memorial Bridge is now one of five bridges in South Carolina listed on the National Register. The others are in Greenville, Horry, and Richland counties.

The bridge opened in 1959, replacing a swing bridge built in 1927. Originally known as the Lady’s Island Bridge, it was renamed in 1971 in honor of Richard V. Woods, a local South Carolina Highway Patrol trooper killed in the line of duty.

The bridge’s center span pivots open horizontally on a regular basis to allow boat traffic on the Intracoastal Waterway to pass through. In 2022, the bridge opened 1,659 times to allow commercial and private vessels to pass through. That ranged from a low in September of 70 to a high in November of 269. Traffic data for 2022 is not yet final but in 2021, the bridge averaged 13,700 vehicle crossings a day.

The application process, which included researching not only the history but the engineering significance of the bridge, began over a year ago. It was reviewed by the staff of the  State Historic Preservation Office, and then moved to the State Board of Review, comprising preservation, history, and planning experts. The State Board of Review approved it in November 2022. The application was then submitted to the National Park Service, which oversees the National Register, for final vetting.

In order to be listed on the National Register, a site must meet seven aspects of “integrity” to achieve a listing: location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association. The structure must be at least 50 years old, and possess some significance in American history and culture. The Woods Memorial Bridge was immortalized in the 1994 Best Picture, Forrest Gump. In one of the most famous scenes a bearded Tom Hanks as Forrest is shown running across a Mississippi River bridge, but in actuality, the scene was filmed on the Woods Memorial Bridge.

South Carolina offers events tied to 250th celebration of American Revolution

Although the 250th celebration of the American Revolution isn’t until 2026, South Carolina historians are helping set the stage with a series of events this year, including the Fourth Annual American Revolution Symposium Nov. 19 in Columbia.
Sponsored by the S.C. Archives and History Foundation, the all-day event features lectures, workshops and exhibits, including:

• Rick Wise speaking about General Thomas Sumter’s and General Francis Marion’s Rounds and Bridges Campaigns
• Randell Jones on The Gathering— the Route of Col. James Williams and South Carolina Militia for the Battle of Kings Mountain
• John Beakes speaking on William Campbell in the American Revolution, Commander of Riflemen at Kings Mountain and Guilford Courthouse
• Doug Bostick providing an update on the Liberty Trail
• Bill Davies speaking about plans for South Carolina’s 250th Commission celebrations
• Rev. Paul Wood on “A Search for the Truth Underlying Dicey Langston’s Stories of Heroism.”

In 2016, Congress passed the United States Semiquincentennial Commission Act to coordinate activities for the 250th commemoration of the history and founding of the United States and events of the American Revolution.
Historic Beaufort Foundation is sharing information about the 250th celebration of the American Revolution for a number of reasons, including the Battle of Port Royal Island in 1779 near Beaufort as well as several of Beaufort’s oldest historic homes date to the late 1700s. Beaufort was chartered in 1711.
For details about some of South Carolina’s upcoming events or to register for the Nov. 19 celebration, visit https://scarchivesandhistoryfoundation.org/ and click on News and Events. The symposium will be held at the SC Department of Archives & History. 8301 Parklane Road Columbia, SC 29223.

Historic Beaufort Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit education foundation created to preserve, protect, andpresent sites and artifacts of historic, architectural, and cultural interest throughout Beaufort County, South on social media, including Facebook and Instagram.

Main Street Beaufort – Looking back, looking forward

Main Street Beaufort – Looking back, looking forward

In 1985, downtown Beaufort’s commercial corridor was on the endangered list, with vacant storefronts, dilapidated buildings, little coordination among the merchants and the anchor tenant, a Belk department store, about to relocate to a shopping center three miles away.

Fast forward to 2022 and downtown Beaufort not only is thriving, but attracts attention regularly from national media for its beauty, appealing mix of restaurants and shops – most of them locally-owned – and tremendous pride among the merchants. The commercial buildings have been renovated and regularly are repainted and awnings replaced.

The nationally-recognized Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park creates a peaceful passive park with bench swings overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway and marina. A carefully-restored clock tower at the entrance to the park has created an iconic meeting place for people rendezvousing downtown – “we’ll meet you at the clock.”

All that change didn’t happen by accident.

In 1985, a group of downtown Beaufort merchants, property owners, city leaders and Historic Beaufort Foundation introduced the Main Street program to Beaufort. The program brings leadership, direction, preservation expertise and marketing help to small, historic and struggling downtown communities, such as Beaufort in the mid-1980s.

“Downtown might not have been dying, but it was certainly not as well as it could have been,” David Taub, Beaufort’s mayor in 1985, said in a 10-year retrospective. “We can thank the Main Street program for coming in and breathing new life into our downtown.”

Interestingly, Lise Sundrla, HBF’s assistant director, came to Beaufort in 1987 to lead Main Street Beaufort after a similar post in Gaffney, SC.

“Beaufort’s core commercial district certainly has seen ups and downs over the decades, but a cornerstone of all the successes has been this community’s dedication to working together and preserving historic structures while finding ways to re-energize what happens inside these historic storefronts and houses,” Sundrla said.

Since its inception in Beaufort, the Main Street program grew, flourished, cut back, changed focus and eventually morphed into several different elements to promote downtown Beaufort as a shopping and dining destination.

Cynthia Cole Jenkins, executive director of Historic Beaufort Foundation and who helped shape the group’s preservation work in the 1980s and ‘90s, points to the critical importance of Bay Street in downtown’s past – and future.

“Bay Street has been the heart of Beaufort through three centuries and for much of that time John Mark Verdier’s house has stood on a pivotal corner,” she said. “John Verdier was a merchant who faced financial ups and downs and built a remarkable example of Federal Period architecture that remained in the hands of his family for 144 years.

“Historic Beaufort Foundation was instrumental in resurrecting Bay Street when in the 1960s it committed to restoring such a major structure in the heart of downtown. As stewards of Mr. Verdier’s house for 70 years, we understand the benefit of historic preservation in Beaufort’s commercial core,” she noted.

Today, downtown Beaufort’s core commercial district faces challenges similar to some from the 1980s and ‘90s:

Continued expansion of retail development, including big box shopping, along Boundary Street, Robert Smalls Parkway and across from Cross Creek Shopping Center

Commercial and residential development at Whitehall and Lady’s Island, directly across from the historic district

Renewed conversations about the need for a new bridge that could bypass downtown.

Today, as 30 years ago, Main Street Beaufort can provide solutions. A key is bringing together businesses, community, civic and city leaders to strengthen downtown Beaufort.

Kevin Cuppia, co-owner of Modern Jewelers, a fixture on Bay Street since 1947, saw the challenges of the 1980s and was among the merchants who embraced the Main Street Beaufort concept.

“Having a coordinated approach to preserving the historic storefronts and encouraging businesses that could compliment and thrive made great sense, and then the work to consistently present the downtown district as a desirable, attractive place to shop and eat helped put us back on the map,” Cuppia said.

“We are proud to have been one of the early supporters and partners of Main Street in the 1980s and ‘90s and we still keep those concepts in mind when I meet with other downtown merchants,” he said.

Today’s conversations include preserving historic properties while upgrading essential infrastructure such as drainage, electrical and Internet service, and providing a coordinated approach to marketing and promotions while encouraging and supporting businesses that fit the authentic sense of Beaufort.

“Working together, we can focus on building an even stronger economic engine in downtown Beaufort while preserving and enhancing the historic experience,” Sundrla said.


Annual Beaufort Fall Festival of Houses & Gardens Oct. 22-23 features Downtown Historic District and city’s unique architectural history

Historic Beaufort Foundation’s annual Fall Festival of Houses & Gardens, October 22-23, is among the Lowcountry’s most-anticipated events and this year’s schedule includes iconic properties as well as a Sunday brunch, tour, and conversation at Tidalholm with HBF executive director Cynthia Jenkins and Beaufort architect Rob Montgomery on the Beaufort Style of architecture and way of life.

Named one of South Carolina’s best fall festivals by “Best Things South Carolina,” the annual tour is one of the rare times that owners of historic houses open them for public tours.

“The Fall Festival of Houses & Gardens is the best time to experience Beaufort's extraordinary setting and architecture as gracious property owners open their private homes and exquisite gardens to public view.” said Cynthia Jenkins, executive director of Historic Beaufort Foundation. “To visit inside these houses and to walk their gardens is truly a magical experience.”  

This year’s event represents the best of The Beaufort Style while reflecting Beaufort’s distinct architectural history. Sponsors include Frederick & Frederick ArchitectsGilbert Law Firm, Modern Jewelers, Montgomery Architecture & Planning, Lowcountry Real Estate, Beaufort Carts, HomeFinder Realty Group and Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Bay Street Realty Group.

The Beaufort style reflects the rural setting of the town laid out following the natural bends of the river as it wraps around Beaufort’s famous Point Neighborhood. Sometimes referred to by architectural historians as a “plantation style come to town,” Beaufort’s architectural heritage reflects both topographic and climatic conditions with key design elements that ensured more comfort in the sub-tropical climate of the Lowcountry.


The Saturday walking tour will take visitors through modest cottages to grand residences to historic churches dating circa 1786 through the early 1900s. 

Highlights include the Milton Maxcy House, ca.1810 and remodeled in the 1850s; the John Joyner Smith House, ca.1850; the William Ritchie House, ca. 1883; “Petit Point,” ca. 1855; the Talbird-Sams House, ca.1786; the Adam Davis Hare House, ca.1924; and the Parish Church of St. Helena, ca.1817-1842; and its churchyard.

Of special note is the inclusion this year of one of the rare officer’s cottages that was saved and relocated from Parris Island to the Point.

 The John Mark Verdier House, which underwent a comprehensive exterior renovation in 2021 taking it back to its 1804 paint scheme, is also included on the Saturday tour this year. The renovation earned statewide honors.

A highlight of the weekend is Sunday’s brunch and tour of the Edgar Fripp House, ca.1853, also known as “Tidalholm.” HBF Executive Director, Cynthia Jenkins and local architect Rob Montgomery will be discussing the Beaufort Style of architecture and way of life. 

This year’s properties are in historic downtown Beaufort along the Bluff, on the Point and in the downtown commercial district. The tour will take place rain-or-shine on Saturday, October 22 and Sunday, October 23, and all sales are final.


Advanced reservations are strongly recommended as this popular event tends to fill up quickly. Tickets for the Saturday tour are $60 for HBF members and $75 for non-members. Tickets for the Sunday Brunch and Tour of the Edgar Fripp House (Tidalholm) are $130 for HBF members and $150 for non-members.  Please note Sunday tickets are limited and will go quickly


All tickets may be purchased by calling HBF at 843-379-3331 or online athttps://historicbeaufort.org/beauforts-architects-tour/


Online Ticket sales will close Thursday, Oct. 20 at midnight. Tickets will also be available for purchase on Saturday, Oct. 22, 9AM to 2:00PM at the fall tour station in the Arsenal Courtyard, 713 Craven Street. 


HBF has prioritized tour participants’ and safety during the event. Per homeowner requests, masks may be required when inside the properties.


Please also plan to visit other community events scheduled during the Tour weekend:

Downtown Gallery & Merchant Walk – Friday, October 21, 5-8 PM, Downtown Beaufort. Visit many of Beaufort’s unique downtown galleries and shops as they stay open to welcome locals and visitors for the Fall Tour weekend.

Halloween Celebration – Saturday, October 22, 10AM, Henry C. Chamber Waterfront Park. Sponsored by the City of Beaufort.

Sunday Community Sing with Marlena Smalls and Eric Crawford – Sunday, October 23, 3PM, Carteret Street Methodist Church, 408 Carteret Street. Sponsored by USCB’s Center for the Arts. For tickets: https://centerfortheartstickets.universitytickets.com/w/event.aspx?id=1572

Historic Beaufort Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit education foundation created to preserve, protect, and present sites and artifacts of historic, architectural, and cultural interest throughout Beaufort County, South Carolina. For more information on the entity's mission and history, please visit historicbeaufort.org and follow them on social media, including Facebook and Instagram.



Historic Beaufort Foundation earns major honor for exterior renovation of the John Mark Verdier House

Historic Beaufort Foundation’s extensive 2021 exterior renovation of the John Mark Verdier House on Beaufort’s Bay Street earned Preservation South Carolina’s prestigious Stewardship Award July 13.

Built in 1804, the 13,000-square-foot Federal style building used era-appropriate shipbuilding techniques, with beams and hand-cut boards laid horizontally. Slated for demolition by Beaufort city officials in 1944, a group of Beaufort residents rallied to save it and it opened as a house museum in 1975.

Since 1990, Preservation South Carolina has saved historic homes, helped businesses process historic tax credit opportunities, and enforced easements. They also focus on the preservation of rural-historic churches, the revitalization of smaller community’s downtown areas through historic preservation, and the saving of historically significant Black landmarks across the state.

Each year the organization celebrates exceptional preservation work across South Carolina.

“The Verdier House is one of the best-known properties in Beaufort’s National Historic Landmark District, and this award continues to validate our work to preserve and protect the Verdier House,” said Cynthia Jenkins, executive director of HBF and a nationally-known preservationist.

The award-winning restoration took place during 2021 and addressed decades-long weather damage along with changing the home’s exterior paint scheme to reflect its original construction more accurately.

“This was painstakingly-detailed work, most of it by hand, and what we see now is as close as possible to what John Mark Verdier saw when he completed construction of the house more than two centuries ago,” Jenkins said. Recent analysis and study of the Verdier House’s tabby foundation shows it was the first use of Roman cement in South Carolina, Jenkins said.

Roman cement is a substance developed by James Parker in the 1780s and patented in 1796. It was a natural cement made by burning certain clay deposits and then grinding them to a fine powder. This product, made into a mortar with sand and mixed with water, set in minutes and stayed strong for decades or longer.

Greenville-based Preservation South, LLC was brought in to plan and manage the Verdier restoration project in concert with the Historic Beaufort Foundation. Greenbuild, a contractor, and Positive Outlook Painting, both also from Greenville, were hired to undertake the work.

The entire exterior envelope of the building was scraped by hand to remove loose and flaking paint as well as determine if the substrate was solid or in need of replacement.

The building was then primed and repainted in a period scheme supported by expert paint analysis.

The scored block pattern original to the foundation was recreated in paint on the tabby foundation. Only two small sections of the original scoring are visible today. These were used to recreate the layout using classical ratios. Once the design and size of the blocks were finalized, the pattern was meticulously laid out on the foundation and painted by hand.

Also, wood fence panels under the front steps and a gate in the form of a fence section were re-created from historic photos to bring back long-missing character-defining features of the house.

“This project was years in the making and serves as an example for other historic properties in Beaufort to be brought back to their historic appearance,” said Wayne Vance, chairman of the Historic Beaufort Foundation Board of Trustees.

“The amount of research that went into this project is truly amazing, and the detailed craftsmanship of the renovations were executed to the highest historic preservation standards,” he said.


HBF is a 501(c)3 nonprofit education foundation. For more information on the Foundation’s mission and history, please visit historicbeaufort.org and follow them on social media, including Facebook and Instagram.


Historic Beaufort Foundation Summer Sale to feature furnishings, decorative arts and more July 29-30

A demi-lune mahogany Sheraton-style sideboard, English Chippendale-style oval dining room table with carved claw and ball feet, a mid-19th century mahogany flame-front chest of drawers with elaborately carved legs with lion paw feet, a tall post canopy bed with a raised panel headboard and other prized items donated over the years to the Historic Beaufort Foundation will be featured in a July 29-30 Summer Sale in downtown Beaufort.

“At our Summer Sale, we’ll be offering to the public a number of unique finds that have been donated to the Foundation over the years for our use, without any restrictions,” said Lise Sundrla, assistant director at Historic Beaufort Foundation. “These are items given to us for the benefit of the Foundation to use or to sell and are not part of our Verdier House collection.”

The event is set for July 29-30 at the Best Western Sea Island Inn on Bay Street in downtown Beaufort, from noon to 4 p.m. on July 29 and then 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on July 30. Admission is free to the sale. Sale items include furnishings, decorative arts, books and publications, art and more.

“We have some beautiful pieces in this sale, but we’d much rather they find a good home than stay in climate-controlled storage with us,” Sundrla said.

Delivery options will be available at the sale if needed, or buyers are welcome to take their purchases directly home themselves.

Proceeds from the sale will support Historic Beaufort Foundation’s work to preserve, protect and present sites and artifacts of historic, architectural and cultural interest across Beaufort County.

HBF is a 501(c)3 nonprofit education foundation. For more information on the Foundation’s mission and history, please visit historicbeaufort.org and follow them on social media, including Facebook and Instagram.



Historic Beaufort Foundation adds four new members to Board of Trustees, sets officers and committees

Beaufort-area residents Sarah Dyson, Drew Scallan, Marshall Bassett and John Tashjian join the Historic Beaufort Foundation’s Board of Trustees following action at the group’s annual meeting in May.

Each will serve three-year terms to advance the non-profit foundation’s mission to preserve, protect and present sites and artifacts of historic, architectural and cultural interest throughout Beaufort County.

“We are thrilled to bring these four new members to the Board of Trustees and they each bring a wealth of experiences and talents to move us forward while preserving the past,” said Cynthia Jenkins, executive director of the HBF.

The new members join veterans Wayne Vance, Kevin Cuppia, J. Wood Rutter, John Troutman,           

Derek Gilbert, Rob Montgomery, Donna Dehncke, Patricia Battey, Cheryl Steele, Beth Grace, Anne Higgins, Dr. John McCardell, and Larry Haskell. Maxine Lutz continues as ex-officio (non-voting) on the HBF Board of Trustees per her role as a member of the City of Beaufort’s Historic District Review Board.

Board officers re-elected to a second one-year term include Vance continuing as chair, Cuppia as vice-chair, Rutter as treasurer, and Troutman filling his role as immediate past chair. Beth Grace succeeds outgoing Secretary Derek Gilbert who will remain on the board through completion of his term.

Meet the new members of the Historic Beaufort Foundation Board of Trustees:

 Sarah Dyson is a graduate of Converse College in Spartanburg SC, with a B.A. in Art History. Between college and marriage, she worked as Assistant Tours Director for Historic Charleston Foundation and their internationally renowned Spring House and Garden tours. She is married to Greg Dyson Sr. and they have two sons and four grandchildren.

A resident of Beaufort County since 1990, Dyson brings local board experience including the YMCA of Beaufort County, Friends of the Beaufort County Library, and Beaufort Memorial Hospital Foundation. She serves as a docent for HBF at the John Mark Verdier House Museum and on the Foundation’s Development Committee.

Drew Scallan grew up in Cincinnati and is a 1969 graduate of The George Washington University in Washington, DC.  He married his wife, Pamela, and they raised two children in the District of Columbia.  Drew’s career centered around real estate, including construction, development, commercial appraisal, project management and investments.  Many of these activities involved contributing structures in historic neighborhoods. 

Scallan’s experience includes working with the Historic Tax Credits available to property owners who follow preservation standards and guidelines in restoring properties. Among his renovation projects is the conversion of the 1940 Winchester, Virginia Coca Cola Bottling Works building into loft-style apartments.

Marshall Bassett grew up in Durham, N.C. He attended Duke University undergraduate and business school and spent his career in investment management in New York and Philadelphia, retiring to Beaufort in 2016.  He and his wife, Mary, are members of First Presbyterian Church and live in the historic district.  Both Marshall and Mary provided great support during the recent renovations to the John Mark Verdier House. Bassett currently serves on HBF’s Finance Committee.

John Tashjian brings more than 30 years of experience in Wall Street private equity, investment banking, financial restructuring and capital markets focused on the real estate industry. In 2003, Tashjian co-founded Centurion Real Estate Partners where he currently serves as its Managing Partner.    

Tashjian has served as a member of the Board of Directors to the Centurion Foundation Board (no relation to his company), a charitable foundation dedicated to the advancement of law enforcement in New York City and other municipalities.  In Beaufort, he serves as a Board Member for the Beaufort Memorial Hospital Foundation and currently serves on HBF’s Operations Committee.  He and his wife, Beaufort native Katie Cunningham Tashjian, permanently relocated to Beaufort in late 2019 and welcomed their first child this year.

For the Historic Beaufort Foundation’s committees, Rob Montgomery will continue as chair of the Preservation Committee; Patricia Battey as chair of the Verdier House Committee; Donna Dehncke replaces Kevin Cuppia as chair of the Development Committee and Wayne Vance will chair the Operations Committee.

HBF is a 501(c)3 nonprofit education foundation created to preserve, protect, and present sites and artifacts of historic, architectural, and cultural interest throughout Beaufort County, South Carolina. For more information on the entity’s mission and history, please visit www.historicbeaufort.org and follow them on Facebook and Instagram.