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 used to be an Ordinance Shop for Fort Moultrie. Like many of the Fort’s buildings it was sold after the Fort was decommissioned and converted to residential use. Looking at it now, it is hard to imagine its long and significant history until you climb into the attic and see the top of the old brick walls with its arched window openings and old wood roof trusses.
We recently 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, and 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.