Monday, April 04, 2005

 

Southern history comes to life

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The Beaufort Gazette
By Maxine Lutz
April 03, 2005

Historic Beaufort Foundation sponsoring a series of free lectures.

Underwater archaeology, the history of Beaufort's builders, neglected Southern writers and Bahamian architecture will all be part of Archi-treats, a series of free lectures sponsored by Historic Beaufort Foundation in April.

Scheduled every Monday at noon beginning April 4 in the Friends Room at the Arsenal, the lectures provide an opportunity to hear experts in the fields of archaeology, history, architecture and the arts in one-hour programs.
The 2005 series will feature lectures and slide programs on:

Searching Port Royal Sound for historic vessels;

The identities of Beaufort's antebellum builders;

Neglected writers of the Old South; and

The architecture of South Carolina exiles in the Bahamas.

"The Port Royal Sound Survey: Searching the Sound for 16th to 19th Century Shipwrecks" will be presented by James Spirek of the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology on Monday.

The presentation will describe a project by the Institute to inventory inter-tidal and underwater archaeological sites, particularly abandoned vessels, shipwrecks and landings. The lecture will focus primarily on new findings since intensive marine remote sensing operations were launched in 2001.

These include efforts to discover shipwrecks at the entrance to Port Royal Sound, including the 16th-century French shipwreck Le Prince (1577); to detect Civil War components from the Union naval repair depot at Station Creek; and to locate the remains of the Union Army gunboat, USS George Washington on Whale Branch River, lost in the Civil War.

Spirek is deputy state underwater archaeologist and has investigated submerged maritime cultural resources in South Carolina since 1996.

The second lecture, "Building Beaufort: Patrick McGrath and Beaufort's Antebellum Craftsmen," will be presented by Evan R. Thompson, executive director of Historic Beaufort Foundation, scheduled for April 11. Thompson has uncovered new information about a middle-class cadre of craftsmen and artisans in antebellum Beaufort and their connections to each other.

His research into the history of the circa 1841 McGrath-Scheper House at 807 North St., now being stabilized by Historic Beaufort Foundation, led him to a wealth of information about Beaufort's antebellum builders, most importantly their identities. Previously, the builders existed as an anonymous band that made significant contributions to Beaufort's architecture but whose members' names and worksites were unknown.

"The America We Have Not Been: Neglected Writers of the Old South" will be presented April 18 by John M. McCardell, Jr., president emeritus and professor at Middlebury College in Vermont and a part-time resident of Beaufort.

McCardell is on sabbatical in Beaufort while he works on a biography of William Gilmore Simms, an antebellum Charleston writer. McCardell received his Ph.D. from Harvard and has concentrated his scholarship on U.S. history,
1789-1890, with special emphasis on the "Middle Period," the Old South and American historiography. His presentation takes a broad view of literature and discusses the many reasons 19th-century Southern writers have been neglected.

Local architectural historian Colin Brooker will present "Exiles in Paradise: The Architecture of Southern Loyalists in the Bahamas" April 25. Brooker, of Brooker Architectural Design Consultants, has spent much of the past year in an archaeological investigation of colonial sites in the Bahamas.

His presentation will include his observations and the results of his research at Bahamian sites associated with Southerners, including South Carolinians, who were loyal to England during the American Revolution. Much of his investigation is taking place in Dunmoretown, which was settled by Lord Dunmore, Virginia's last colonial governor.
He will draw connections between Bahamian colonial architecture and that of Beaufort, both vernacular styles adapted to tropical conditions.

The programs are free and open to the public at the Friends' Room at the Arsenal. Donations to support the programs are welcome, and guests are encouraged to bring bag lunches. For more information, call the Historic Beaufort Foundation at 379-3331.


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