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Planning Commission Meeting, July 12

Is the Building Arts College good for McLeod Plantation?

Pat Jones who covers Planning

It is possibly the only intact plantation in all of America. Plantation house, slave houses, oak allee, magnificent vistas from the front piazza plus fields, where once, rice was cultivated. But, no, that wasn't enough to convince the Planning Commission that McLeod was worth preserving. Misty-eyed students and McLeod board members (of which there were so-o-o many) positively swooned whenever the proposed school was mentioned.

European settlement dates back to the 1600's at this location, and the plantation as well, played a role in the Civil War. Island resident, Fred Wichmann declared McLeod "a jewel'. "It embodies an enormous amount of historic significance." One delightful African American gentleman recalled his families close association with this property. He wondered why it could not be preserved as a means of promoting an understanding of the past while rejoicing in it's present beauty. The seersucker suits and African Americans joined in wanting this plantation preserved. Now that is true integration!

So why McLeod Plantation for this school? It was pointed out that there are currently three vacant school buildings on James Island capable of housing the College of Building Arts. Also, the school was about to sign a contract with the Noissette project, placing the school in North Charleston, when at the last minute, it declined. Why? A certain mayor wanting the school in Charleston maybe? Or,could this be Nancy Hawk's swan song? For those who don't know, Nancy is the chairman of the school's board.

Keith Waring, member of the Planning Commission gave the most impressive and informed presentation. Mr.Waring was able to grasp the emotional and historical significance this property held for so many. Whether as descendents of former slaves or possibly that of former plantation owners, these people came together in wanting McLeod plantation preserved.

Frank McCann, chairman of the planning commission, said he will visit his ancestral home, Ireland, sometime this summer. How fortunate for Mr.McCann that he can return to Ireland where so much has been preserved, beautiful rolling green hills, incredible views out over the Irish Sea, and that Ireland, like much of Europe, has so many magnificent homes, castles, vistas. And how sad that James Island's only link with its past has been lost. Mr McCann, take lots of pictures because one day a planning commission like yours might show up in your beautiful part of Ireland, and those pictures will be all you have.