Changes at the Gibbes

Dear Editor:

The Gibbes Museum of Art has embarked on a much-needed renovation of the front and rear garden spaces concurrent with the massive restoration and renovation of the Gibbes building. After earlier attempts to prolong the life of the magnolia trees in the rear garden (one of which was just large enough to be classified as a grand tree) the decision was made to review designs that did not include the five existing trees. Other institutions, including St. Philip’s Church, have experienced similar issues with magnolias that have reached their life expectancy.

SMI Landscape Architecture of Palm Beach, Florida, was chosen after an extensive RFP process to develop the design for the new Lenhardt Garden. The garden design, which includes 33 pleached live oak trees, was reviewed by the Board of Architectural Review (BAR) on November 12, 2014 and by the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) on December 3, 2014. Representatives from Historic Charleston Foundation and the Preservation Society were present at these meetings. Finally, the design was presented to the city’s Design Review Committee (DRC) for final review on January 20, 2015. The trees were removed after the approval process was complete. Established partnerships with Charleston Parks Conservancy and the Garden Club of Charleston allowed for the harvesting of many existing plant materials for reuse in other locations including the Charleston Library Society garden.

Described as a classical garden with contemporary elements that blends native plants, the Lenhardt Garden will enhance one of Charleston’s most historic blocks and the Gateway Walk by offering a restful and inspirational ambiance for residents and visitors. Once again accessible through the rear entrance of the Gibbes, it will link the historic Meeting Street Museum Mile with the busy King Street retail and dining district. The Lenhardt Garden will become a sought-after urban destination and greatly enhance the operations of the Gibbes.


Angela D. Mack

Executive Director

Gibbes Museum of Art

Charleston, S.C.


Second Reconstruction

Dear Editor:

On the eve of the 150th anniversary of the end of the War Between the States, it has become abundantly clear to anyone who lives and works here now, or had the pleasure of growing up here, that Charleston is in the middle of what amounts to a “Second Reconstruction.” If you don’t think so, consider some of the points raised in an excellent article written by John Burbage, posted in the P&C’s January 25 issue.

Lowcountry residents don’t have to look far from their front door to see what over-development can do to destroy the very thing people move here to enjoy; whether it’s downtown or on one of our nearby sea islands. I’m sure most of us can point to already completed buildings or the discussion of planned developments at any given meeting. Indeed, we are able to cite many examples of how our region needs to step back and take time to “diet” as John Burbage is suggesting — a point the Mercury consistently supports.

One has to wonder how long it will be before — heaven forbid — a pile driver operating on the downtown peninsula, encounters an unexploded cannon ball left over from the nearly 600 days this city was bombarded during the War Between the States. In human terms, this huge push to develop seemingly every square inch of land available in the tri-county area has an unfortunate result that few bureaucrats in government circles seem to realize. Over here East of the Cooper, where I’ve lived for the last 28 years (after growing up downtown), I used to ride horses in my neighborhood as a teenager and on the beach. Now it practically takes an act of Congress just to walk a dog on the beach. Of course, one has to wonder, too, about the impact on the rural areas that still exist. Urban sprawl is no myth.

So, the “Second Reconstruction is an unfortunate reality. It may not be the Yankee Army this time around but I definitely think those of us who live here need to remain vigilant and hold our public officials accountable.  


Vicki Hewitt Causey

Mt. Pleasant, S.C.


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