Mount Pleasant, South Carolina – In an ambitious cultural preservation project, the patch of land located at the convergence of Mathis Ferry Road and 5th Avenue, currently sitting vacant, is set to become a window into the past, specifically the rich history of the Scanlonville settlement.
The initiative, led by the East Cooper Civic Club, aims to transform the area into an immersive historical park, featuring poignant exhibits that trace back to the community’s origins, established by freed slaves post-Civil War.
The park’s design is a tapestry of Scanlonville’s cultural and historical essence. One of the key features visitors can anticipate is a sweetgrass weave pavilion, a tribute to local craftsmanship and artistry. Adding to the landscape’s texture, gold Gullah statues will stand as silent narrators of the past, guiding visitors through a journey that shaped the community. Perhaps most notably, the park will host a replica of the original land map delineating the neighborhood’s inception when a freed slave first purchased the land, marking the genesis of the settlement.
Upon entry, visitors will be greeted by a ‘praise house’ structure, an emblem of unity and community spirit, reflecting the settlement’s deep roots in collective faith and resilience. This is not just an artistic choice but a deliberate nod to the welcoming nature of the original settlers, ensuring the park is more than a physical space but a continuation of the legacy left behind.
According to Edward Lee, President of the East Cooper Civic Club, club members have been advocating for years for a tangible narrative of their journey, a legacy etched in the soil of the land. The club has been the driving force behind this monumental project, tirelessly working towards preserving the history of their community in Mount Pleasant.
“It’s not a playground. It’s a passive park, but everything in the park will have meaning and significance. So hopefully, it’ll start a lot of questions.” Lee said with huge enthusiasm.
The historical park is designed as a ‘passive park,’ inviting visitors to engage in quiet reflection and learning. Each feature within its bounds is fraught with significance, a deliberate strategy to spark curiosity and in-depth discussions about the Scanlonville community’s history and struggles.
What makes this project even more integral to the town’s fabric is its connectivity. The park will be accessible via the extensive network of bike and walking trails currently under development by the town of Mount Pleasant, symbolically and physically linking the town’s future to its heritage.
Lee hopes that the park will offer explanations to passers-by intrigued by the community’s present appearance, unaware of its hard-fought past.
“So just riding through here, you kind of get a feel for what the community looks like. But you don’t know why it looks like that. And all the struggles that you know, that we’ve gone through, so we’re hoping we can present an explanation and clear those that will have a small part of history,” Lee says.
As the designs reach finalization, the next phase is already underway with active fundraising initiatives for construction. Interested individuals can access the full park design and contribute to the cause through the East Cooper Civic Club’s platform.
This historical park promises to be more than a leisure spot; it is set to be a landmark of learned history, a homage to the Scanlonville settlement’s past, and an educational resource for generations to come.