Brown Design Studio had the great honor of receiving an award last week from the Historic Beaufort Foundation. The award was for the adaptive re-use of the Grace White House into a 17 student dorm for the University of South Carolina. The award was noted for the special sensitive care taken in the preservation of the building's interiors.
The Grace White House was originally built in the 1880's and received a very major renovation in the 1930's. The house is located in Historic Beaufort South Carolina and was the home of Beaufort's first woman attorney. The house is also interesting in that it has a full basement, something rare in the Lowcountry.
The House was purchased by the University of South Carolina as an addition to the Historic Beaufort Campus with the goal of converting it to housing for Art Students. The program called for 16 students along with a RA in a private apartment along with common space, kitchen, laundry, a route of access for ADA compliance and 21st century services.
On the Exterior, the goals were modest with basic maintenance and replacement. The building was stripped of its lead paint and repainted along with some basic trim replacement. The major changes were the addition of a concealed chair lift in the rear and organized out door space, parking and services for the students.
The interior was another story however with the building having complete original interiors including trim and full plaster walls and ceilings. The building was completely re-wired, still having its 1930 eara wiring in tact along with adding in security, phone, University network access and wireless service. The entire HVAC system was replaced also with new high-effiencey units added. Much of this re-wiring was completed by careful work by the tradesmen to minimize the demo or cutting of the existing plaster walls.
Additionally, the full basement was converted over to a private RA apartment using most of the existing masonry and wood walls. This lower level had been partially open to the outside but we have sealed it for much better energy savings and air quality.
The building is a great example of adapting an existing building into a very different modern use while retaining all of the local historical character of the building. These students receive the exact same level of care & service that any other student would get but they get to enjoy a large 12' wide porch also!
Tucker Building Corporation completed the work and should receive praise for their efforts along with all the tradesmen who worked with care and purpose on this project. The City of Beaufort should be commended for the recent Planning efforts to encourage this type of project and the growth of the Beaufort Campus with the Art Student Scholarships fund. Historic Beaufort Foundation should also be thanked for presenting the award and helping to shape and encourage both preservation and positive change.
Lastly, the University of South Carolina should receive high praise for the efforts here. Chancellor Upshaw and her staff have shown great vision and leadership in the re-investment of the Historic Beaufort Campus. That vision is clearly one that values promoting the wonderful uniqueness of the Historic Downtown part of BEaufort along with offering a 21st Century education. One of the best things Beaufort could do for quality of life and economic development, is to grow the Historic Beaufort Campus.