BEAUFORT, S.C. (Nov. 23, 2022) -- With this month’s approval by the state review board, Beaufort’s Woods Memorial Bridge will be fast-tracked for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.
Swing bridges were the most popular type of moveable bridge from the late 18th century through the 1920s. The current Lady’s Island Bridge was completed in 1959 and was added to the State’s Historic Property Record in 1981.
The structure, the only remaining swing-span bridge in Beaufort County and one of eight in South Carolina, is an important part of the community and was classified as a “principal destination” in the 1997 Palmetto Greenways Initiative/Beaufort Greenway Plan.
The designation gives the community an opportunity to protect the bridge and impacts on Beaufort’s National Historic Landmark District. With the designation, any undertaking regarding federal licensing, permitting or funding requires a mitigating review by the State Historic Preservation Office which also calls for public comment.
The funds to hire Kyle Campbell of Preservation South, LLC, to research and prepare the nomination were raised through donations to the City of Beaufort’s Pride of Place program.
Beaufort Mayor Stephen Murray and Historic Beaufort Foundation Executive Director Cynthia Jenkins attended the Nov. 18 meeting of the National Register Board at the S.C. Historic Preservation Office in Columbia, where the nomination was approved. It now goes to the keeper of the National Register in Washington, D.C., for review and subsequent listing.
“It is an honor to have the Woods Memorial Bridge considered for the National Register of Historic Places,” Jenkins said. “The bridge is an essential part of Beaufort’s character and has been for more than half a century.
“The bridge signifies the economic expansion of downtown Beaufort to the Sea Islands. The physical bridge itself is important because its scale relates to the centuries of history in downtown Beaufort. It is an honest, simple design to help people cross the Beaufort River while at the same time encouraging boats to travel up and down the Intracoastal Waterway,” Jenkins said.
Constructed in 1959 to replace a smaller, aging swing bridge built in1927, the steel bridge is one of only a few swing bridges left in South Carolina. Unlike a drawbridge which opens vertically, a swing bridge swings on a central axis to provide clearance for boats and barges to pass through on Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.
Community leaders pushed to rename the bridge in 1971 to commemorate Richard V. Woods, a local State Highway Patrol officer who died in the line of duty.
“The Richard V. Woods Memorial Bridge is a huge part of what makes Beaufort such as special place,” Beaufort Mayor Stephen Murray said. “It’s a beautiful structure, and the Beaufort River and salt marsh views make up for any delays we have all experienced when we are driving to a meeting but get ‘caught’ by the bridge.
“Adding the Woods Memorial Bridge to the National Register of Historic Places is a big, big deal and reflects well on the city, Historic Beaufort Foundation and all the people who supported our nomination,” he said.
About Historic Beaufort Foundation: Historic Beaufort Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit education foundation created to preserve, protect, and present sites and artifacts of historic, architectural, and cultural interest throughout Beaufort County, S.C. For more information on the entity's mission and history, please visit historicbeaufort.org and follow them on social media, including Facebook and Instagram.