Beaufort guide helps owners 'do the right thing' when repairing … – Charleston Post Courier

Rain likely. Low 48F. Winds NE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 100%. Rainfall around a quarter of an inch..
Rain likely. Low 48F. Winds NE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 100%. Rainfall around a quarter of an inch.
Updated: January 21, 2023 @ 9:29 pm
The Joseph Johnson House, also known as the Castle, was built in the late 1850s. Beaufort Historic Foundation/Provided
The Thomas Fuller House, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, was built around 1786-1788. Its exterior walls are made of tabby and covered with stucco. Historic Beaufort Foundation/Provided
Tidalholm, built in 1853 by Edgar Fripp, is one of Beaufort’s most famous houses. It was featured in the 1983 movie “The Big Chill.” Historic Beaufort Foundation/Provided
This house at 900 Duke Street was built in 2019 but includes details that help it fit in with older houses in Beaufort: a five-bay porch, a raised foundation, and a low-pitched roof. The design is by Allison Ramsey Architects. Anthony J. Pierro Photography/Provided
This house at 1107 West Street was originally built in the 1920s and renovated in the late 2010s with an eye to preserving or restoring historic details. Design by Allison Ramsey Architects. Allison Ramsey Architects/Provided

The Joseph Johnson House, also known as the Castle, was built in the late 1850s. Beaufort Historic Foundation/Provided
This house at 1107 West Street was originally built in the 1920s and renovated in the late 2010s with an eye to preserving or restoring historic details. Design by Allison Ramsey Architects. Allison Ramsey Architects/Provided
BEAUFORT — A casual visitor to this 18th century city on Port Royal Island may not be able to pinpoint what makes it distinct from other old Southern ports. But those with a trained eye can give a host of reasons.
“Little things like column details with a chamfer on each corner,” said Jeremiah Smith, chairman of the city’s Historic Review Board.
From the window of the 1935 cottage where he works as an architect for the firm Allison Ramsey Architects, Smith could see a dilapidated house that illustrated some of the details that make Beaufort feel like itself: a three-bay porch, a wooden exterior, no gutters.
Then there was the craftsmanship.
“Pickets on the porches are some cool examples of just old, intricate cutouts the carpenters would do,” Smith said.
Helping owners fix and maintain houses like that one, along with other structures in Beaufort’s National Historic Landmark District and the Northwest Quadrant, is the reason for the Beaufort Preservation Manual, whose newly updated version the City Council adopted in November. 
It identifies current best practices in the preservation field and recommends materials for renovations, repairs and new construction. 
Since its first publication in 1979, the manual has become not only a model for other preservationists around the country but also a key to Beaufort’s ongoing appeal. 
“I think what’s important to note — and it’s happening everywhere, not just in Beaufort — is development pressure,” said Mary DeNadai, a fellow of the American Institute of Architects who drafted many of the original drawings as a young associate with John Milner. She is now the principal of John Milner Architects, which also produced the 1989 and 2022 versions.
“There’s an overwhelming need for hotel rooms, or rental houses, or condos, or townhouses, or whatever,” DeNadai said. “In order to preserve the reason why people love to go to Beaufort, you have to be careful not to destroy it.”
On both a map and a timeline, Beaufort sits between Charleston and Savannah. Despite similarities with those places, Beaufort developed a look and feel so distinct it has its own name.  
“It’s called the Beaufort style, just as it’s called the Charleston single house or the Savannah townhouse,” said Cynthia Cole Jenkins, the executive director of the Historic Beaufort Foundation.  
Tidalholm, built in 1853 by Edgar Fripp, is one of Beaufort’s most famous houses. It was featured in the 1983 movie “The Big Chill.” Historic Beaufort Foundation/Provided
The Beaufort style is informed by the city’s history as a rural setting, rather than as a dense community.
Before the Civil War, wealthy planters lived on the nearby Sea Islands, including Lady’s Island and St. Helena. In the hot summer months they retreated to their town homes, usually on large lots that sat back from the street. 
Those mansions show the builders’ awareness of the city’s picturesque location on a bend in the Beaufort River, where the wind comes from the southwest and the bright sun alternates with showers. 
“You raise the house to better catch the breeze,” Jenkins said. “You face it to the south and put a big piazza on it to shade the interior rooms.”
The builders also used low-pitched roofs because that shape doesn’t trap as much heat, and laid out the entire house in the shape of a T, usually with the stem in front and crossbar in back.
“Not only do you get the cross breeze, but you get views on three sides, so it brings a lot of light into what could be a dark back room,” Jenkins said. 
Today, some quintessential examples of the Beaufort style are still standing: the Thomas Fuller House or Tabby Manse; the Barnwell-Gough House; the Joseph Johnson House, also called the Castle; the William Elliott House; and 1 Laurens St.
The Thomas Fuller House, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, was built around 1786-1788. Its exterior walls are made of tabby and covered with stucco. Historic Beaufort Foundation/Provided
But newer buildings throughout the city also pick up elements of the look, a decision Jenkins said was deliberate. 
“In a lot of cases, Beaufort Ts were created of a rectangular-shaped house when they would add a new kitchen,” Jenkins said. “It was never on ground level. Even in the more modest houses, you notice they’re all on at least a foot foundation.”
Attempts to fit in with the existing style, as well as the decision not to be larger or farther forward than a neighboring house, spoke to Beaufort homeowners’ respect for what was there before, Jenkins said.
At the same time, every major architectural period of the past 300 years is represented in Beaufort.
“Unlike a lot of other preserved or restored communities, Beaufort is not Disneyland,” DeNadai said. “There is not a frozen epoch in time.” 
Instead, DeNadai said, Beaufort displays a coherent set of proportions, rhythms and architectural amenities. “It’s all knitted beautifully together.”
When it first came out more than 40 years ago, the Beaufort Preservation Manual — also called the Milner Report, after the firm that put it together — marked one of the first times a U.S. city commissioned a building and restoration guide in a nationally recognized historic district. 
The book also had its own kind of beauty, with detailed drawings and a focus on the Beaufort style. 
“It was not uncommon to find it on people’s coffee tables,” Jenkins said.
Today, the manual is online and easily searchable. 
“It’s supposed to be kind of a homeowner’s guide,” Smith said. “It gets into real specific stuff, like if your brick is falling apart, here’s how to clean it and fix it.”
Charleston does not have a comparable guide, although elements in the Milner Report may be covered in Charleston’s architectural and zoning ordinances. 
“And, of course, what they’re suggesting that’s appropriate for use in Beaufort would also be appropriate as far as repair techniques in Charleston houses,” Jenkins said.
The new manual also reflects changes to recommended materials. For example, fiberglass windows are higher quality now, whereas they weren’t great 30 years ago, Smith said.
This house at 900 Duke Street was built in 2019 but includes details that help it fit in with older houses in Beaufort: a five-bay porch, a raised foundation, and a low-pitched roof. The design is by Allison Ramsey Architects. Anthony J. Pierro Photography/Provided
Where to put one’s television antennae was also taken out of the updated version. 
By providing a comprehensive resource with information about everything from rotting columns to roof repair, preservations and city officials hope homeowners and contractors will do their part to keep Beaufort’s unique look and feel intact. 
“It was done intentionally to encourage the right thing when you’re dealing with a historic house,” Jenkins said. “A loss of character in a community doesn’t happen overnight. It’s gradual. You lose it one demolition, or one inappropriate construction at a time. And before you know it, you’ve lost it.”



Kelly Jean Kelly covers Hilton Head Island and Beaufort for The Post and Courier. She’s also worked as a broadcast journalist and a fellowship leader for The OpEd Project, which seeks to expand the range and diversity of voices in the public conversation. 
In the Lowcountry, our lawns are warm-season turfgrasses that include centipedegrass, St. Augustine grass, zoysiagrass, or Bermuda grass. These are permanent lawn grasses that go dormant in winter and return in spring. Read moreGardening column: Maintaining green lawns in the winter
Like other places in South Carolina, this old coastal city is facing development pressure. A newly updated manual describes the latest thinking and materials to maintain historic buildings and preserve the Beaufort style.  Read moreBeaufort guide helps owners ‘do the right thing’ when repairing historic houses
The Inflation Reduction Act makes money available for households looking to increase energy efficiency and cut down on energy costs. Read moreSC households can take advantage of federal incentives to reduce energy usage
In general, a plant’s hardiness rating is based on whether the plant will survive the low temperatures in its growing zone. Even plants rated for growth in Zone 8a or 8b will show cold damage when low temperatures last as long as they did.  Read moreGardening column: Plant care after a freeze
The Post and Courier
148 Williman Street
Charleston, SC 29403
Phone: 843-577-7111
News tips/online questions: newstips@postandcourier.com
Delivery/subscription questions: subserve@postandcourier.com
, Post and Courier, an Evening Post Publishing Newspaper Group. All rights reserved.

source

Leave a Comment