Tucked away on Sullivan’s Island’s Thompson Street is a small gem waiting to be uncovered and restored. Hidden under a layer of vinyl siding and almost dwarfed by a rear addition, is a small brick building with a simple gable roof that back in the 1890’s was used as an Ordinance Shop for Fort Moultrie. Like many of the Fort’s buildings it was sold after the Fort was decommissioned and it was then converted to residential use. When we started this project, it was hard to imagine its long and significant history. But then we climbed into the attic and saw the top of the old brick walls with its arched window openings and old wood roof trusses.
After we received Conceptual and then Preliminary Approval from Sullivan’s DRB for the renovation of the old Ordinance Shop. We asked for permission to demolish the rear addition so the original shop building could become a small residential unit (a special exception allowed under Sullivan’s zoning ordinance to encourage the adaptive reuse and preservation of these historic buildings). But this was not an easy ask and the Board took it’s time to review our design, debate amongst themselves how much change to the original building was acceptable as an adaptive reuse, and consider whether the rear addition had any merit in it’s own right and should be incorporated into the design. These issues were complex and will also need to be debated and discussed when the old Town Hall buildings are renovated and adapted to residential use.
In the end, the DRB gave us unanimous approval to demolish the rear addition as it did not have significant merit in it’s own right. They approved a new porch on the front, as well as large storefront style windows and shed dormers in the roof at the rear. While the process took a few months, in the end I think everyone felt satisfied with the balance between preserving the historic fabric and accommodating residential use on this unusual site.
The redevelopment of this site is starting with the restoration of Fort Moultire’s 1890’s Ordinance Shop and will then move the design and construction of a new home on the back of the lot.