Name Change for Local Historic School Advocacy Group

            The Dillon Historic School Foundation held their August meeting at the Dillon County Chamber of Commerce Conference Room with nine members present. Chairman Gerald Berry welcomed two new members to the organization and made several announcements.

            Chairman Berry reported that the summer has been very busy and exciting for the organization. He reiterated his July report that the name change to a Foundation is official. The organization has received notification of approval from the South Carolina Secretary of State, Mark Hammond. The Dillon Historic School Advocacy (DHSA) is now the Dillon Historic School Foundation (DHSF).

            Chairman Berry reported that the IRS application for recognition as an eleemosynary organization and qualification for tax exempt status has been completed.

            Chairman Berry requested that members continue their search for photographs of the J.V. Martin Auditorium.

            He also reported the hearing before the South Carolina Historic Board of Review for approval of the DHSF application for listing the buildings on the J.V. Martin campus of the National Register of Historic Places was held July 25th. The hearing was held at the South Carolina Department of Archives and History, located on Parklane Road in Columbia. Appearing at the Board Hearing were Chairman Berry, Mary Skipper Miller, and Lorene Bridgers Arnette. Appearing to oppose the application were Richard Schafer, Chairman, Dillon County Board of Education; Ray Rogers, Superintendent, Dillon School District Four (4); Doug Broome, Dillon County School Board member; and School District’s attorney, Bruce Davis.

            Chairman Berry reported that Dr. Caroline Wilson from the Upstate Preservation Consultants, presented a detailed report of the application sites, including the Dillon Graded School Building (known locally as “The White Building”) constructed in 1896, the J.V. Martin Auditorium and Gymnasium, both built in 1936, under the auspices of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the cafeteria, band room, and a wood shop, all added in 1957. She reported any buildings that are fifty (50) years old, or older, are eligible for listing on the National Registry of Historic Places. Dr. Wilson provided an interesting power point presentation with charts of the campus and photographs of the buildings, including beautiful pictures of the art deco interior of the auditorium. Mr. Berry presented a brief statement to the fifteen-member Board in favor of the application.

            Dillon County School Board Attorney Davis spoke, requesting that the Review Board deny the application for recognition by the National Registry of Historic Places for the J.V. Martin site.

            In his remarks, Davis informed the Review Board that in his opinion the buildings on the J.V. Martin Campus were not historic, reported in detail his opinion that the buildings were in deteriorating and in dangerous condition, and the school district could not be financially responsible for expensive repairs and modernization of the buildings. Davis advised the Board that the J.V. Martin facilities were owned by the Dillon County School Board.

            Mrs. Arnette rose to refute Mr. Davis’ assertions and stated that at no time did DHSF anticipate school district monies be used in any fashion for any purpose at the J.V. Martin Buildings. Mrs. Miller stated that the J.V. Martin buildings are owned by the Dillon School District 4, not by the Dillon County School Board.

            After a question and answer period and discussion by the Review Board, Mr. Edward Lee, of York moved to approve the DHSF application, seconded y Ms. Elaine Harris, of Pacolet, followed by unanimous vote b the Review Board membership. Dr. William Kinney, Board Chairman, announced the approval and reported the application would be forwarded to the United States Department of the Interior for final consideration.

            Upon the completion of Chairman Berry’s report on the events at the hearing in Columbia, the group addressed new business. Mrs. Betty Lou Barclay reported on steps for acquisition of a Historical Marker from the National Park Service, pending approval by the Federal Department of the Interior.

            The meeting concluded with a discussion of various needed projects, and members volunteering to chair project committees.

            Mr. Berry reminded members the next meeting will be Tuesday, September 2nd, at 7:00 p.m. at the Chamber Offices on Main Street. New members and visitors are welcome and encouraged to attend. For more information, email Chairman Berry at: [email protected]