The Jackson Street Cottages

A Preservation Success Story

For a hundred years The Cottages faithfully stood watch down Jackson Street, inhabited almost exclusively by working-class families. As the 20th century began to wane, the area around the cottages saw widespread economic stagnation. This drove many citizens from The Charleston Peninsula and into suburban locations. The last full-time residents of The Cottages vacated just prior to the end of the millennium.

A quarter-century of vacancy and vagrancy followed – threatening the historic record of the Charlestonians that formerly dwelled there. However these buildings still remain.  The structures now stand as a reminder of the carpenters, machinists, porters, mechanics, longshoremen, and painters that inhabited The Cottages, and the many structures like them, that used to be found throughout the city.

So to every soul that lived, worked, died, laughed, cried, sang, toiled, loved, gave birth, was born, tried to stay warm, slept, and woke early for work in these homes: May the preservation of these houses last as a record of your stewardship.

Restoration

Mount Vernon Partners purchased the cottages, and hired Brown-Glaws Contractors to break ground on a total rehabilitation in 2017. By utilizing tax credits for historic rehabilitation, facilitated by the National Parks Service and the South Carolina State Historic Preservation Office, the team developed a rehab plan that would bring cottages back to life while treating the historic material and configuration with the utmost sensitivity.
When renovation began, they were uninhabitable, missing vital elements such as doors, windows, and large swaths of siding. The interiors were in similar disrepair, missing walls, ceilings, and functioning kitchens and bathrooms. Because of their advanced deterioration, much of the historic and non-historic finishes were removed to access and restore structural integrity.
All salvageable historic materials were saved and put back into place or repurposed elsewhere in the cottages. Most of the historic siding was removed, saved and put back into the original location while non-historic plywood that covered portions of the cottages was replaced with siding that matches the historic material. The piazzas were treated much the same way.A larger piazza was added to the rear of the house at 197 Jackson St. with new, wider decking that compliments the historic floor material. Interior trim profiles were replicated where missing, based on remaining existing sections, as well as architectural elements such as mantels.

The completed project, per the NPS tax credit guidelines, was placed into service as a commercial space. The campus is now home to several tenants in the service and hospitality industry, as well as the JSC Events music and special event venue.

*For more information on the original construction practices of these structures, you can refer to The Library of Congress Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey.

Property Timeline

Acknowledgements:

Clemson University + The College of Charleston Graduate Program in Historic Preservation Class of 2017 | Fall 2015