The Beaufort History Museum is moving back home.
In early spring, the museum will leave City Hall to return to The Arsenal, which houses the city’s official visitor center at the corner of Craven and Carteret streets, said Blakely Williams, president of the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce.
“From our point of view, it’s going to really enhance the visitor’s experience, to be able to come in and get all sorts of good information and then go upstairs and visit the museum,” she said.
The chamber has a $1-per-year lease for 99 years with the city for The Arsenal. The chamber’s sublease with the museum also will be for $1 a year and is for five years, with a renewal option for another five, Williams said. It was signed Thursday after months of negotiations between chamber and museum boards.
Museum board president Katherine Lang has long said her ultimate goal was to see the museum return to The Arsenal, where it is more accessible to residents and tourists.
The exhibit and storage space will be smaller than it is now — from 3,500 square feet to 2,470 square feet. But it will allow a different configuration that will provide new display opportunities, she said. The museum board is commissioning a study to develop a long-range plan for museum improvements.
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(Editor’s note: New classes of docents are trained regularly. For information about our fall 2014 sessions, download the information packet here.)
Many visitors to the Beaufort History Museum are content to wander through the collection unguided, soaking up the experience on their own. But many appreciate the help of a docent, who can bring the exhibits to life by providing background, telling stories and answering questions.
In fact, experiencing the museum with a docent is exactly what we recommend, and soon, that will be easier for our members and patrons.
The first class of trained docents graduated Oct. 17, giving us 13 additional volunteers to make your visit more enjoyable and informative. Best of all, the additional staffing means we can expand hours and — for the first time since the museum re-opened in Beaufort City Hall in early 2011 — we will offer weekend hours.
Starting Nov. 1, the museum at 1911 Boundary St. in Beaufort will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sundays.
“Any small-town museum is only as strong as its volunteer corps,” said Beaufort History Museum board president Katherine Lang. “Having a vibrant docent group allows this museum to be sustainable.”
The docent training program was coordinated by Anna Schaffer, another member of our all volunteer Board. Applicants attended five, two-hour sessions, during which they learned about Beaufort’s rich history, from ancient times to the arrival of Europeans to the creation of the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park.
“From this group, I really sensed we have not just a group of volunteers, but a group of active volunteers,” Schaffer said. “They all came in with research they have done on their own; they all came in with interest in local history and ideas about field trips we could take other than the ones scheduled.
“This was really a roundtable experience with very knowledgable people. … And they now have an outlet to do what they love.”
The group includes:
Henry “Robbie” Robertson, who started a second career as a nurse after a stint in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Louise Beiderman, who was a member of the Friends of the Beaufort Museum in the 1990s.
Ray Gilligan, a salesman by trade and a lifetime sailor, Gilligan is a Bluffton resident with a abiding interest in area history.
Dataw residents Alex Marsh, a retired marine biologist, and his wife, Carla, who is on the board of an historical organization in Boca Raton, Fla., their other home.
Nancy Andrepont, who is a kayaker and the mother of some of Beaufort’s strongest swimmers;
Gwen Myers, the Beaufort History Museum board vice president and owner of the Beaufort Clothing Company.
Carol Lauvray, who hails from Ohio , where she worked in public relations and marketing, and was one of the first people to move to the Midtown development in Beaufort’s Northwest Quadrant neighborhood.
Julie Michau, a long-time resident of the Old Point neighborhood.
Lorrie Burleyknoles, a military wife and former manager at Whitehall.
Lee Spencer, a recent transplant from Denver, Colo.
Alvesta Robertson, also a museum board member. She is the historian of her church and taught at the historic Mather School in the late 1960s.
Debra Sunderwirth works full-time as a dental hygienist at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.
For all their diversity, these newest contributors and members of the Beaufort History Museum family have in common a love of Beaufort, history, and learning, a desire to contribute to their community, and a sense of adventure. They are having fun together, going on field trips and planning new ones, and adding their own knowledge to the group.
Sunderwirth will be at the museum on Sunday afternoons, the one day, as she puts it “she can do something for herself.” Lauvray says she came to Beaufort because it is not only beautiful, but a “real place.” Robbie Robertson says he has never done anything in his life that he didn’t love, and we’re confident that will include helping museum visitors get the most out of our exhibits.
Sound like fun to you, too?
The first training session went so well, Schaffer has decided to follow quickly with a second session. An informational meeting is set for 10 a.m. Oct. 31 at the museum. To fit our volunteers’ schedules, they can choose sessions from 10 a.m. to noon or from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Dates are Nov. 7, 14, 21 (no classes Thanksgiving week) and Dec. 5, 12. Don’t let a schedule conflict deter you from volunteering, either — make-up sessions Dec. 8 and 15 will accommodate those who miss one of the regular classes or who want to complete the training on the weekends. Docents are required to become museum members, if they are not already. In addition, there is a $25 charge to cover the cost of training materials and other supplies.
On Oct. 29, you can have your John Coctostan AND help the Beaufort History Museum.
Moe’s Southwest Grill will donate a percentage of its proceeds to the museum during a special promotion from 5 to 9 p.m. that evening. That means you can order the popular quesadilla — or the Overachiever taco or the Homewrecker burrito or whatever menu item your heart desires — and contribute to the growth of Beaufort’s museum.
Moe’s is located at 2015 Boundary St., in Beaufort Town Center. Just tell the cashier you’re there to help the Beaufort History Museum.
Like much of the history of South Carolina’s black community, stories of the 1st S.C. Volunteers — the first official black regiment of the Union Army — have been largely by word of mouth.
”Sometimes, you sit down and talk about things that have occurred here, and when you bring in people who are visiting or have moved into the area, they are truly amazed at what occurred,” said Beaufort County Coroner Ed Allen, whose great-great-grandfather was a soldier in the regiment.
“It’s one of those things I’m proud that at least my ancestors passed on to me.” Part of that history will take more concrete form Thursday when the Beaufort History Museum unveils its “1st S.C. Volunteers: From Slaves to Soldiers to Citizens” exhibit.
The 1st S.C. Volunteers, who were also known as the 1st S.C. Colored Troops, were officially mustered the same day they were granted their freedom — when the Emancipation Proclamation was read in Beaufort, S.C., Jan. 1, 1863. Until that day, they were “contraband,” to be considered spoils of the war between the Union and the Confederacy. With an exhibit that follows the soldiers from slavery to Civil War to Reconstruction, we tell their story.
Though technically still slaves until that point, the men had been fighting for the Union since November 1862. But It took a visit from native Beaufortonian Robert Smalls to convince President Abraham Lincoln — in part by his own, heroic example — that slaves could make good soldiers. Evidence suggests that this visit, coupled with the self-evident fact that slaves here already were fighting, might have hastened the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.
The exhibit to honor their part in Beaufort’s history will run from September through December, along with these events:
Thursday, Sept. 5: Exhibit opening gala at museum, with food, music and libations. The event will feature Select Quartets of the Junior Symphony Orchestra Ami Rabinowitz & David Laughlin. Times are 6 to 9 p.m. at the museum in Beaufort City Hall on Boundary Street. Tickets for museum members are $25; tickets for non-members are $35. Both tickets and memberships will be available at the door.
Friday, Sept. 13: “The Interruption of Thomas Darrow.” Tim Johnston of Short Story America will read his story about a Union soldier who is on duty for the execution of the co-conspirators in the assassination of President Lincoln.
Friday, Sept. 20: “Glory.” Joseph McGill, historian and 54th Massachusetts re-enactor, will present the movie at the University of South Carolina Beaufort Center for the Arts.
Saturday, Sept. 21: Encampment of 1st S.C. Volunteers, led by Joseph McGill, at Naval Heritage Park in Port Royal.
Also during September is the Beaufort Public Library’s “Reading the Civil War” series of events and Artworks’ presentation of Natalie Daise in “Becoming Harriet Tubman,” Sept. 6-8, 2013. Other related events are planned throughout Beaufort County.
“The Interruption of Thomas Darrow”
The Beaufort History Museum presents Tim Johnston reading his original short story about a Union soldier who has been assigned to work at the execution of the convicted co-conspirators in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. The story has been published in two short story collections, most recently in the first volume of Short Story America,which will be available for purchase.
Time and date: 7 p.m. Friday, September 13, 2013
Location: City Council Chambers, 2d floor, Beaufort City Hall, 1911 Boundary St., Beaufort, SC 29902
Price: To be determined
Contact information: Katherine Lang, Beaufort History Museum,
The Beaufort History Museum is mounting an exhibit about the first former slaves to be officially recognized as Union soldiers in the Civil War. These soldiers were mustered in on the same day they were given their freedom, as part of a jubilee at the reading here of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. Robert Smalls helped convince President Abraham Lincoln that they would be able troops, and there is evidence that the proclamation was hurried to accommodate their enlistment. In addition, the museum will help conduct a showing of the movie “Glory,” which closely follows the story of the 54th and 1st S.C. Volunteers.
OPENING GALA, EXHIBIT
Time and date: Opening Gala, September 5, 2013.
Exhibit open Tuesday through Thursday, 10-12 p.m., 2-4 p.m., September -December.
Location: Beaufort History Museum at City Hall, 1911 Boundary St., Beaufort, SC 29902
Price: $3 per person for exhibit; price for opening to be announced.
Contact info: Call Katherine Lang, Beaufort History Museum.
Description: Historian and 54th Massachusetts Regiment re-enactor Joseph McGill will introduce the movie, “Glory,” and discuss how closely it follows what we know about the 54th & the 1st SC Volunteers.
Time and Date: 7 p.m., Friday, September 20, 2013
Location: City Council Chamber, Beaufort City Hall, Beaufort, SC 29902
Contact info: Katherine Lang, Beaufort History Museum.
1ST S.C. VOLUNTEERS ENCAMPMENT
Description: Joseph McGill and between 5 and 10 other re-enactors will create an encampment as the 1st SC Volunteers
Time and date: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, September 21, 2013
Location: Naval Hospital Park (near the Port Royal Farmers’ Market), off Ribaut Road, Port Royal, SC.
The Beaufort History Museum is displaying a retrospective exhibit on the Water Festival from its beginning in 1955 to the present. Come see a collection of memorabilia from past Festivals, from photo albums to T-shirts, programs and newspaper clippings. Drop by the museum in Beaufort City Hall to see for yourself.
The second annual Beaufort History Museum board of trustees meeting will be 6 p.m. Jan. 23 at Beaufort City Hall, 1911 Boundary St. Trustees will present the 2013 budget and business plan, and members will vote on officers for the year. While nominations will be accepted during the meeting, the proposed slate is Libby Holloway for secretary, Harry Chakides for treasurer, Gwen Myers for vice president and Katherine Lang for president.
Six months after opening, the Beaufort History Museum is preparing its first special exhibit. The “Goin’ Down the River” display, which focuses on the Lowcountry tradition of fish camps, was inspired by a new book of the same title by local author and photographer Janet Garrity. The display opens with a reception Dec. 13 at the museum, housed on the first floor of City Hall.
Our mission is to preserve, promote and interpret the experiences of our past that influence us now and in the future.
The Beaufort History Museum is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. 713 Craven Street, Beaufort, SC 29902