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"Friends" gather to save McLeod from SOBA

Warwick Jones, Editor

The City of Charleston has begun the process allowing the School of Building Arts to acquire the McLeod Plantation. The issue comes before the Board of Zoning Appeals -Zoning, Tuesday, September 7 at 5:15 pm, 75 Calhoun St., and the opponents of the sale are gathering. The opponents, and there are many, want to see the Plantation preserved and open to the public. They have formed a group called Friends of McLeod, dedicated to the preservation and restoration of the Plantation. They have also been joined by the Cities of Folly Beach and James Island.

We understand that the group has spoken to a number of potential donors and is confident of securing sufficient funds to finance its objectives. A web site is being created the address of which is www.mcleodplantation.org. Press here for access.

The press release is appended below:

The Friends of McLeod Inc announces that the group, dedicated to the preservation and restoration of the house, land, outbuildings, cemetery, oak allees, woods and fields known as the McLeod Plantation has incorporated in South Carolina and filed all necessary papers with the IRS for status as a federally tax-exempt, non- profit organization.

The Friends of McLeod Inc will work to offer an alternative for this site, other that the School of the Building Arts . The friends of McLeod will open the plantation to the public and establish a program to educate visitors on McLeod's importance from the Colonial period into the 20th century, the many facets of its military history, and its role in exemplifying the agricultural history of a Sea Island plantation. We believe it is important to save McLeod's remaining rural vistas and to protect one of South Carolina's most valuable archaeological sites.

Fred Wichmann, Chair of the board of Directors said " it's not how we would want to see the property, it's how Willie McLeod would like to see it". He continued, "Historic Charleston Foundation has done a good job in maintaining the property but their proposed sale to the School of the Building Arts will destroy valuable artifacts and grave sites on the property.

Mayor Joseph P.Riley Jr., remarking on a possible 1997 sale of part of the property for a fire station expresses similar views stated that "There is a lot of concern that we may be unnecessarily and wrongfully diminishing the character of the remaining McLeod Plantation. If we are going to err, it is better to err on the side of preserving than not".

Michael Taylor is Executive Director of the South Carolina Battleground Preservation Trust, one of the organizations supporting the efforts of Friends of McLeod Inc. Speaking for the Trust, Mr. Taylor noted that "The South Carolina Battleground Preservation Trust believes that McLeod Plantation offers a unique opportunity to interpret not only a working plantation from Colonial times up to the Civil War, but it's also an historic military site worth of preservation."

Other support comes from the City of Folly Beach that passed Resolution No. R41-04 , " A Resolution by the Folly Beach City Council Respectfully Requesting the Historic Charleston Foundation Inc to Reconsider Its Offer to Sell the McLeod Plantation to the School of Building Arts", which was sent to Mayor Riley and the Historic Charleston Foundation Inc. The towns of James Island also passed a Resolution requesting the sale be denied.

Wichmann is joined by officers of the Board, Kerry Owens MD, Vice Chairman, Gary Keull, Acting Secretay, Dottie George, Treasurer . Jack Duane is the Director of Public Information.

For more information on how to help the Friends of McLeod Inc, call Jay Duane at 327 3762 or Carol Jacobsen at 795 7519. Call Joyce Wichmann at 795 9172 for copies of the petition which will be presented to the City of Charleston Zoning Board Appeals - Zoning at their hearing on this issue of September 7, 2004, 75 Calhoun Street, 3rd floor The hearing starts at 5.15 pm

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