Historical society requests use of old courthouse

  • Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A.M. Sheehan/Journal Scene - Upper Dorchester County Historical Society Director Jim Way shows councilmembers copies of his book on Monday. The book includes the autobiographies of every family in the area, said Way.

The Upper Dorchester County Historical Society spoke before the Dorchester County Council Planning, Development and Building Committee Monday, requesting the council grant it use of two to three rooms in the former courthouse in St. George.
The courthouse, at 101 Ridge Street, was officially renamed the Dorchester County Offices Annex Monday, by the county council.
The historical society asked specifically for the “fireproof” rooms in the building that, according to society President Phyllis Hughes, are walk-in vault rooms and are needed to protect valuable historical documents.
Society director Jim Way brought the few copies of an autobiographical book he compiled and published with his own money, to show the council an example of what the society is doing.
Eventually, the society hopes to fill the entire courthouse, but initially only needs a few rooms.
It is hoped, explained Hughes, that students, residents, tourists and researchers will use the collections, documents and artifacts.
“The old courthouse is a perfect match for what we need,” said Hughes. “And the financial burden of preparing those rooms will be on the historical society.”
The society, explained Hughes, would use college interns and local students to “make it happen.”
“Our elders are passing away and we have no place to put our history,” she said, “it’s being thrown out in the trash.”
The group plans on getting oral histories, having a genealogical library, research library, black history and rare books.
“You should know, this is for the entire county,” noted Hughes, “not just the upper county.”
Hughes explained the center would be governed by a board of directors, managed by a part-time qualified archivist and volunteer assistants, funded by the society but that the county would pay for maintenance of the building and its utilities.
Council member Carroll Duncan responded to the presentation explaining, “We need to define what that building will be for the county…that’s the first step.”
“This council needs to know where it is going, so we can direct you,” added Councilman Willie Davis.

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