BEAUFORT, S.C. (April 22, 2021) – Next week, a team from John Milner Architects will be walking every block of Beaufort’s Historic District, making an inventory of every structure. It’s the first step as the Milner firm begins to revise its The Beaufort Preservation Manual, published in 1979 and updated in 1990, as well as update the City’s list of contributing structures.
It’s a long time coming, and the City of Beaufort is eager for the work to begin.
“We’re very excited to update the manual,” said Mayor Stephen Murray at City Council Work Session on April 13. “We all agree that it’s long past time that it be updated and we’re very excited to have Milner.” Since the Milner firm researched and wrote the original manual, continuity will be preserved, he noted.
Mary Werner DeNadai, a principal at the firm whose ink drawings of historic homes made the original manual both charming and informative, will be leading the project along with Brad Roeder, a senior associate.
The first part of the project is surveying the district – all of which is a National Historic Landmark -- to update the list of contributing structures (structures that demonstrate architectural integrity). Milner’s team will be using as its guide the original list, compiled first in the 1970s and last updated in 2001. The Historic District, which includes the Northwest Quadrant, has approximately 1,000 structures, and of those, roughly 467 were deemed contributing in 2001. “We’ll mark how these structures have changed over time,” Roeder said at Work Session. “Is the building still there? If it’s not, we’ll provide a new survey sheet for the new building.”
The team will then begin the process of updating the Preservation Manual and its supplement, as well as the Northwest Quadrant Design Principles publication from 1999. The Preservation Manual’s list of architectural styles – which range from Beaufort Federal in the late 1700s to Greek Revival from 1820 to 1860 to Colonial Revival from 1880 to 1920 – may grow to include Mid-Century Modern, which lasted from the mid-1930s to the mid-1960s, DeNadai said.
DeNadai and Roeder will also compare the construction design standards in the Preservation Manual to the standards in Beaufort’s current building and zoning code. “This touches on all the different components that make Beaufort Beaufort, and we will try to reconcile the two,” DeNadai said.
Along the way, the Milner team will meet with City Council, the City’s Historic District Review Board, and the Historic Beaufort Foundation (HBF). Toward the end of the process a public presentation will be held.
The project should take four to six months, Roeder said. By the end, the City of Beaufort – and its property owners and developers – will have a seamless document, searchable online and written in a user-friendly manner, to provide guidance on preserving, renovating, and maintaining historic homes and buildings, as well as new design guidelines.
The City will pay the Milner firm $29,430, of which 50% is funded by a Federal Historic Preservation Grant.
“It’s very exciting for Beaufort,” HBF Executive Director Cynthia Cole Jenkins said at Work Session. “It’s a critical time to look at how Beaufort can meet the next 20 to 25 years. I really appreciate the city moving forward on this.”
Photos: The original blue manual and a page with Mary DeNadai's sketches of historic home design styles in Beaufort.