Letter To Editor

All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.

Preservation SC Response to ECHS “Critical Challenge 

I read with great interest the paid advertisement, ”The Plantation House: Edgefield’s Most Critical Challenge,” in The Edgefield Advertiser of August 18, 2021. In my roles as a resident of Edgefield County and a member of the Board of Directors of Preservation South Carolina, I feel compelled to attempt to addsome historical and current perspective to the opinions expressed in the paid advertisement.

Preservation South Carolina’s Board leadership, its Acting President Mike Bedenbaugh, Beth and I, our Mayor Ken Durham, and many others have made significant investments of time and/or resource into exploring and sorting through the options available for restoration of the Old Hotel.

It goes without saying that “The historic Edgefield hotel” should be the anchor of our charming town square.

Beginning in 2007, a couple from Virginia invested a significant amount of money and effort into restoration of the building.  When the economy took a downturn, they let the bank foreclose and the building fell further into disrepair. In 2016, Beth and Iacquired ownership and put our efforts into stabilizing the building. We then chose to gift the hotel to Preservation South Carolina as we felt it was the strongest organization around that could complete restoration of the building as a hotel.

PSC wants to make one thing very clear: the development team’s architect completed a structural analysis and has determined that the structural walls are not at risk of collapse.

PSC has taken a series of steps toward restoration, including but not limited to: • quantification of Historic Tax Credits that can be used to generate a capital base to be used as equity for construction financing• identification of persons who have experience in public / private partnerships who are providing guidance on the best way to access state and federal grants • drafting of architectural and structural plans  • market analysis that demonstrates a significant need for more hotel space in our area

It should be no surprise that the Covid pandemic cooled investor and commercial bank interest in the hospitality business. That negative headwind seems to be lessening.

I stand with my fellow board members in stating that a senior living facility is not in the best interest for the building, or for our community.  A facility of that type does not deliver theeconomic activity required to stimulate development of our Town Square and our greater community. This idea was extensively pushed under prior ownership and was never able to generate the required interest, or funding, to proceed.

The Board of Preservation SC stands by the plan to develop a hotel as a priority goal for the community.  

Projects of this type are never easy. It takes personal and community commitment, specific skills and resources, and political leadership to bring projects like this to successful completion.

It is the wish and vision of Preservation South Carolina that the Edgefield community join us in our efforts to breathe life back into what was the crown jewel of our lovely town.

George Thornton