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Progress vs History Hilton Head Island

Posted by Darle Booher on November 22, 2019
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Most visitors and locals are pleased to have the addition of multiple flights in and out of Hilton Head Airport.  The proximity of the airport to the island communities makes weekend trips and traveling for business much easier.

Progress can be a good thing, but often there are sacrifices and unintended consequences to making things happen. St James Church is the oldest continuously operating cultural structure remaining in historic Mitchelville.  Mitchelville was a north end village, built by freed slaves in 1886.  The church is in the “protected runway zone” and has suffered damage from the larger planes landing and taking off at the expanded airport.

There is also a school, the Old Cherry Hill School, that is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.  Being on the register is somewhat protective but does not prohibit relocation or demolition. 

The town has a plan to move the schoolhouse and rebuild a church for the congregation.  While not a perfect solution, the 200 members have accepted that their church and congregation are more than a structure and have agreed to move to the new location and building. 

As for the Old Cherry Hill School, it will be moved to another historic site nearby.  There is no guarantee it will maintain its designation, but officials are working with the registry to keep its standing. 

The new church site is likely to be on town owned property near Barker Field.  Church members would be happier if the old church could be saved as a museum in some format.  While there is no easy solution, hopefully the completion of the projects will be satisfactory to all, and in some way, will be able to maintain the historical value of these structures.

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