May is National Historic Preservation Month. The National Trust for Historic Preservation is a privately funded nonprofit organization working to save America’s historic places. The National Trust wants everyone to celebrate historic preservation by learning knowing more about where you live.
We are blessed to live in an area so rich in history. From Altamaha, to Charlesfort, to Santa Elena, to Penn Center, to Mitchelville, to Fort Fremont, to the Marine Corps Recruit Training Depot, to the rise of planned development, etc., Beaufort County residents and visitors are fortunate to have a long and distinguished history surrounding us all each and every day! (From the number of tourists I've seen in the area, more and more folks are coming for a taste of lowcountry life, history, and culture.)
Sometimes, though, historic preservation starts literally at your doorstep. Do you know when your house was built? Or who established your neighborhood? One of the best ways to get involved in preservation is to delve into the history of your community.
Here are a few ideas to get you started exploring the history around you:
- Visit the Beaufort District Collection to see if we already have a file on your particular property or to use our printed materials and maps to start compiling the history of your home. We even put up a blog post back in March 2015 about how to proceed. In most cases, unless you live in a structure already on the National Register of Historic Properties, you will also need to contact other agencies.
- Visit the appropriate County offices to research historic tax and property records for your house. You might uncover some hidden mysteries, like clues to who the first owners were, subsequent previous occupants, whether changes were made to the original structure, historic maps of the surrounding neighborhood, and even old photos.
- Get in contact with the South Carolina State Historic Preservation Office. They’ll be able to tell you about local preservation laws that protect the outside of your house, offer assistance in restoring or preserving your home, and provide more information about current preservation projects in your state.
- Visit the National Register of Historic Places, maintained by the National Park Service, to find out about other historic houses, neighborhoods, destinations, and more in your area.
Or, if you’re looking to make a change, buying a historic home is a great way to become a part of your city’s story. (It’s also fun to just browse through the National Trust’s list of historic properties for sale and do a little daydreaming, preservation-style.)
It can be easy to find a personal connection to preservation when you start just by looking around you.