The Hunley's home?
Mayors make cases
Sunday, April 7, 2002
A museum on the harbor at city's Liberty Square
BY JOSEPH P. RILEY JR.
On Aug. 12, 1863, the CSS Hunley arrived in
Charleston on a train from Mobile, Ala. It was taken off the train at the John
Street terminal and brought amid great fanfare by carriage to a wharf at the
end of Calhoun Street where it was launched and first entered the waters of
Charleston Harbor. The city of Charleston's proposal for the Hunley Museum
would allow its permanent home to be essentially the same place on Charleston
Harbor where its naval history began.
The city of Charleston has proposed the Hunley Museum
be built on Liberty Square between the new National Park Service Fort Sumter
Visitors Center and the Dockside Condominiums. The historic significance and
harbor presence of this site are dramatic. About two months after the
submarine first entered the harbor from the Calhoun Street wharf, the bodies
of Horace L. Hunley and his crew were retrieved at this same location when the
submarine sunk off the city's waterfront. Their bodies were taken to Magnolia
Our site fronting the harbor offers views of Fort
Sumter, harbor defenses, the site of the Housatonic sinking and the site where
the Hunley was retrieved from the ocean floor in 2000. All of the significant
places in the Hunley's history are in sight. A wonderful setting for creative
Additionally, our location would be most accessible
to Lowcountry residents and visitors. Other facilities at Liberty Square
provide a variety of attractions. The presence of the Fort Sumter facility is
particularly fortuitous. There would be great value in having the Fort Sumter
facility and Hunley Museum right next door to one another. We have provided
convenient parking in our Calhoun Street parking deck, and this location has
the highest level of public transportation service. This is the most
convenient location for local and out-of-town visitors.
This prominent location provides the best prospects
for the museum's long-term financial success. Any museum or cultural center
must deal with cyclical visitor markets. Patronage ebbs and flows with
consumer interest and the general economic climate. Heritage tourism visitors
that come to our region come to downtown Charleston. It is estimated that
about 4 million visitors come to our region each year, and most of these
visitors come downtown for a house tour, Spoleto Festival USA, the
Southeastern Wildlife Exposition, Market Street, museums and more. At Liberty
Square itself, visitors have the South Carolina Aquarium, IMAX Theater, Fort
Sumter facility and nearby activities at the Maritime Center. These visitors
are much more likely to visit the Hunley Museum for years to come if it is on
Liberty Square rather than a more remote location.
The visitor experience of the Hunley Museum could
begin at the Visitor Center on John Street - the same place the submarine
arrived in Charleston. One million visitors already come through the Visitor
Center every year. From here they can walk, ride a DASH bus or drive to
Liberty Square. During their visit to the Hunley Museum, they could stand on
the decks of the building and have unobstructed views of Charleston Harbor,
past Fort Sumter to the very spot the CSS Hunley made history on the water.
This is essentially the same view the crew had 140 years ago. This is not a
view that one would have to look over hotels, golf courses or other
development to get a glimpse. This is a pure, uninterrupted historic vista.
The visitor can spend the whole day at this one stop.
After viewing the Hunley, they can learn more about Fort Sumter and take a
trip out to the site - then enjoy the Aquarium before heading back into the
city for dinner. This experience is unique and ensures a customer base for
years to come.
The Hunley should not he seen as a prize or novelty
to attract more tourists. The submarine is a precious part of our country's
history. The museum that will be its permanent resting place should be in the
most authentic and historic place possible. This is what the city of
Charleston proposes. Our community has an opportunity to place this museum
where much of the submarine's history is anchored. I believe this is the right
place for the Hunley.
Joseph P. Riley Jr. is mayor of
Include in maritime museum
BY HARRY M. HALLMAN JR.
Why is Patriot's Point in Mount Pleasant the best
site for the H.L. Hunley exhibit?
The first reason is the rich naval history, already
on display for the enjoyment and education of our public at Patriot's Point
Naval and Maritime Museum. This is the Naval and Maritime Museum for our
state. There is no other. The H.L. Hunley would be a centerpiece for one of
the most successful museums of its kind in the United States, with its own
facility designed specifically for its unique exhibition.
The second reason we believe there is no better
location is the fact that Patriot's Point offers a fixed base of over 400,000
visitors per year. These visitors come annually to enjoy our maritime and
naval history. You can he assured that every one of these visitors will line
up to see the H.L. Hunley exhibit. No other site can offer this type of
guarantee of a visitor base upon which to build its future. Moreover, almost
25,000 Scouts stayed overnight on the Yorktown last year. These young, future
leaders of our state and nation will have immediate access to the Hunley
Exhibit if it is located at Patriot's Point. These young people will grow up
to become productive adults, and they will have families of their own and thus
will provide a long-term base of support for our proposal.
It is also important to note here that our location
is quite visible from the city of Charleston, the Cooper River bridges and
Charleston Harbor, and is easily accessible via the water taxi from the city
of Charleston and by automobile from U.S. 17, which is this state's avenue of
tourism. You simply cannot miss us even if you were not looking for us.
Additionally, we have no parking issues and there
will be no fee for parking at Patriot's Point. You will simply park on our
spacious grounds and enter the uniquely presented hall of history. The fact
that a family doesn't have to pay for parking means there will be more
discretionary funds for that family of four to use for concessions or some
small memento from the gift shop. These purchases will be used to support the
H.L. Hunley preservation effort and cannot be understated.
Not only will parking be free and easy at Patriot's
Point, I should mention that the town of Mount Pleasant, in partnership with
the Patriot's Point Authority and other property owners at "The
Point," will begin construction of a new four-lane boulevard to
facilitate access for all of the users of what some have claimed to be the
most important piece of real estate on the coastal area of the southeastern
United States. Easy access from the entire Charleston area and our
"avenue of tourism," and an abundance of free parking for our
visitors are in our opinion critical to the success of the H.L. Hunley
Now, let us not forget the historical connection of
Mount Pleasant to the Hunley and her crew. The last night these brave souls
spent on our earth was just around the shoreline from Patriot's Point in Old
Mount Pleasant. You will be able to see their last residence, the "Shell
House," from the observation deck of the planned Hunley Museum.
Of course, along with our acceptance of
responsibility for preserving history comes a huge fiscal responsibility. For
the H.L. Hunley to be preserved, properly interpreted and exhibited along with
other internationally significant artifacts, there must be a funding plan that
has substance to it. I believe our plan has the most substance of the three
that were presented. I want the Hunley Commission to understand that the Town
and the Authority have pledged approximately $8 million over 10 years from
identified and firm funding sources. We are not playing loose with the future
of the H.L. Hunley. The Mount Pleasant Hospitality Tax is a given source of
income that will only grow. Our conservative estimate is that the fund will
generate initially $1.2 million per year. We are pledging 33.5 percent of
whatever this fund generates. At a minimum, it should generate at least $6.5
million over 10 years. Again, our source of funding is clearly existent and is
clearly earmarked by this governing body, and is furthermore to be secured for
the next 10 years by a contract which we have proposed. When you consider the
$1.5 million in cash committed from the Patriot's Point Authority Board, our
$8 million commitment is just that - a commitment.
Lastly, let me speak to the fact that Patriot's Point
is state-owned. Even though we, as a local entity, are partners in this
proposal, it will be a state agency, located on state property, responsible
for the Hunley's future. If I were a Hunley commissioner, that would speak
volumes to me, considering the political volatility that is ever a part of the
local electoral process.
Harry M. Hallman Jr. is mayor of
City vision holds key to sustainable museum
BY R. KEITH SUMMEY
If any one man laid the foundation for the recovery
of the H.L. Hunley submarine, it has to be Hunley Commission Chairman Sen.
Glenn McConnell. The senator orchestrated the effort to recover the Hunley in
August 2000, when a worldwide television audience witnessed the raising of the
submarine, and its placement, into the Warren Lasch Conservation Center in
North Charleston. Just a year earlier, in 1999, Sen. McConnell stated in a
deeply moving speech that the story of the Hunley must speak to all future
generations of Americans.
In the spirit of Sen. McConnell's deeply moving
speech, the city of North Charleston is proposing an unequaled vision for the
future of the H.L. Hunley submarine, in its bid to permanently house the
recovered vessel on a Cooper River site adjoining the northern end of the
former Charleston Navy Base. On March 8, members of the Hunley Commission,
scientists from the Lasch laboratory and the news media witnessed the city's
presentation to locate the Hunley on the 11-acre "Pier Alpha" site
in North Charleston. Without question, this site provides a spectacular
setting for the Hunley, along the Lowcountry's historic maritime corridor.
The city's proposal also provides the Hunley
Commission with an historic opportunity to usher in the revitalization of the
traditional neighborhoods of North Charleston by placing the H.L. Hunley
Museum at Pier Alpha, as part of the planned 20-year, 3,000-acre, $1 billion
Noisette project. Noisette CEO John L. Knott Jr. worked on development of the
Inner Harbor project in his native Baltimore, a prototype for inner-city
renewal across the world.
The North Charleston team brings international talent
to the Hunley project, including the firm of Ralph Appelbaum Associates,
designers of the Washington, D.C.-area Newseum and United States Holocaust
Museum, Nashville's Country Music Hall of Fame and Richmond's Civil War
Visitor Center. Appelbaum-designed projects - encompassing some 125
installations in museums and memorials in 50 cities around the world - lure
more than 20 million visitors each year.
Appelbaum designs more non-profit museums and
exhibits than any firm in the world. As Architecture magazine recently wrote,
"Ralph Appelbaum doesn't work in the field of museum design; he
practically owns it."
Other team members include the Noisette Company's
master planning firm, Kansas City-based BNIM Architects, which is
collaborating on the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Since 1981, consulting firm
LORD Cultural Associates of Toronto has advised cities and non-profit
foundations on budgetary planning for 950 cultural projects on five
continents. Locally, the team includes LS3P of Charleston, the largest
architectural firm in the Carolinas.
Creating a world-class, sustainable vision for the
H.L. Hunley Museum requires a world-class project team. Undeniably, the track
record of the North Charleston team is equal to the challenge of building a
To understand the city's commitment to building an
international museum for the H.L. Hunley, consider the following advantages:
• Location: The proposed museum site is a quarter
mile from the Lasch laboratory, and includes approaches from I-26 via I-526.
For 2000, SCDOT statistics indicate 43,800 vehicles pass the Virginia Avenue
exit at I-526 to Pier Alpha each day, with the Charleston International
Airport nearby. In addition, North Charleston is the population center for the
Lowcountry, conveniently located near Charles-ton, Daniel Island, Mount
Pleasant, Summerville and Moncks Corner.
• Vision: In the city's vision, the Hunley would
serve as the centerpiece of an urban renewal project and maritime heritage
museum, not as a satellite to existing attractions. Ultimately, it would
evolve into a center for state maritime heritage, including exhibits for the
Colonial Era, Revolutionary War, the Charleston Navy Base and commercial
shipping, in addition to the Civil War.
• Conservation: The city's proposal encompasses
educational, research and scientific programs that will lure students and
researchers to the H.L. Hunley museum from throughout South Carolina and the
world. By continuing archaeological efforts at the Lasch laboratory,
potentially recoverable sunken vessels could be added to the Hunley in the
• TIF funding: With the transfer of 350 acres on
the northern end of the Navy Base from the Charleston Naval Complex
Redevelopment Authority, the city proposes the allocation of $10 million in
Tax Increment Financing revenues to the Hunley museum, as part of a $40
million funding plan for a 40,000-square-foot facility.
• Strategic alliances: The city will actively seek
alliances with the nation's leading maritime museums, including Mystic Seaport
in Connecticut and the Mariner's Museum in Virginia, future home of the
pioneering ironclad USS Monitor.
• Cooper River Heritage Corridor: Located on one of
the nation's leading ecological and historical river corridors, the Hunley
museum would include programs for students and visitors, highlighting the
history of the Cooper River. In addition, a riverboat service would offer
patrons tours of historic sites, starting from the Hunley museum upriver to
historic antebellum plantations and the Mepkin Abbey monastery, along with
downriver trips to the Lasch lab, Navy Base historic sites, Castle Pinckney,
Fort Sumter, South Carolina Aquarium and Patriot's Point.
• Exhibit Design: The city's proposal includes a
series of story-telling, multi-media exhibits, imparting patrons with an
emotional, uplifting experience chronicling the saga of the Hunley. The museum
would include a laboratory with the main exhibit area, a 100-seat virtual
reality theater and the "Crucible," a square, black structure on the
river that would reverentially display the recovered H.L. Hunley.
In envisioning the proposed Hunley museum, the North
Charleston team is single-mindedly dedicated to preserving the legacy of the
H.L. Hunley. Indeed, the Hunley's story of sacrifice, faith, courage and
ingenuity must speak not only to future generations of Americans but to all
the people of the world.
R. Keith Summey is mayor of North
Used with permission of The Post and
Courier and Charleston.Net