Sandlapper Society

Grade 8: Preservation

Grade Level: Grade 8
Subject Areas Addressed: History

To download complete lesson plan, click here.

Historic Charleston Plays Host to those who Save History

Take a look beyond the value of preserving heritage sites, and it’s easy to see how these attractions produce revenue, jobs and a growing economy. The latest figures from the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism (SCPRT) show that tourism pumps $18.4 billion annually into the South Carolina economy. Some 12.6% of all South Carolina jobs are generated by tourism and more than $1.2 billion in state and local tax revenues are generated by the industry. The economic downturn has affected tourism worldwide. In South Carolina, we’ve felt the slump, but there has been a recent uptick in leisure travel.

On June 27, hundreds of people who protect and promote historical heritage sites will descend on Charleston for the International Historic Development Conference (IHDC). How fitting that this event takes place in South Carolina’s most historic city!

Conference participants will take in four days of events and seminars amidst the moss-draped oaks, historic plantations and cobblestone streets of the Holy City. Not just a chance to learn, it’s also a chance to see heritage development in action. Because Charleston was “too poor to paint and too proud to whitewash” in the aftermath of the Civil War, it remained largely untouched, setting the stage for its renaissance. Today, it is a top historical tourism destination. While in Charleston, conferees will have the chance to see and experience its unique culture firsthand.

They can explore the rich Gullah and Geechee culture of the Lowcountry with visits to former rice plantations, hands-on sweetgrass basket making and a feast of the best Gullah dishes at the historical site of Friendfield Plantation, the ancestral home of First Lady Michelle Obama.

They will also explore the unique connection between Charleston and the Caribbean island of Barbados. In 1670, a group of planters and slaves set sail from Speightstown in the Barbadian parish of St. Peter and landed at Albemarle Point on the Ashley River where they established the first successful English colony. They brought the plantation system with them, which shaped the South Carolina economy for centuries to come. The Barbadians brought political influence as well. Seven of the first 21 governors of South Carolina were either Barbadian or had Barbadian ties. Charleston’s architecture and city layout were also heavily influenced by the Barbados connection. Charleston was designed in a similar fashion to Bridgetown with broad central avenues and ordered residential and commercial blocks.

The single house design, for which Charleston is famous, was adopted from the island. Their pastel rainbow hues are another Caribbean inheritance.

The South Carolina National Heritage Corridor (SCNHC) is hosting the conference, which covers topics such as generational marketing strategy, non-profit accountability, creating a foundation, partnering, Internet marketing, social media and much more.

Created by the U.S. Congress in 1996, SCNHC extends 240 miles across South Carolina from the mountains of Oconee County, along the Savannah River to Charleston, encompassing 17 counties. Currently, there are 49 Heritage Areas in 32 states across the country. As members of the Alliance of National Heritage Areas, the folks who work to preserve and promote these historical regions come together every two years to learn, exchange ideas and make contacts among their peers.

More than just preserving and promoting historical sites, the Heritage Areas also actively engage in natural resource conservation, community revitalization, economic development, recreation enhancement, the arts, folk life, education and interpretation.

As IHDC conference participants learn new ways to promote their areas, they’ll experience the wonders of the South Carolina Lowcountry. At the same time, they’ll also benefit our economy. And that’s a good thing. 

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About the author: Even though Donna Thorne was born and raised in the Holy City, she doesn’t have a Charleston accent! She now resides and writes in Columbia.

This article is sponsored by the South Carolina National Heritage Corridor.