Saturday, March 9, 2002
BY BRIAN HICKS
Of The Post and Courier Staff
Charleston is touting its waterfront cluster of new
attractions as the best long-term home for the H.L. Hunley.
The city wants to build the Hunley Museum on the
near the South Carolina Aquarium, between the Fort Sumter tour boat
facility and the Dockside Condominiums.
The 45,000-square-foot, $29.5 million museum would
jut out over
the harbor in a rectangular shape reminiscent of a Civil War ironclad.
In its bid, Charleston leans heavily on the
historical significance of the city's peninsula.
"This prominent location provides the best
opportunity for the
museum's long-term financial success," Charleston Mayor Joseph P.
Riley Jr. writes in his cover letter to the proposal. "Heritage
tourism visitors to our region come to downtown Charleston. Our
location is well-suited for that market."
On Friday, Riley hammered home the point that
Charleston offers the Hunley the most long-term sustainability, one
element that the Hunley Commission is most concerned about. The
Charleston proposal says that the Hunley Museum, even in later or
slow years, could operate at a slight profit, pulling in at least
200,000 visitors annually.
The Charleston aquarium, by comparison, drew 570,000
The city also notes in its proposal that teaming the
the next-door Fort Sumter Tour Boat Facility would increase traffic
for the Hunley museum.
Hunley Commission Chairman Glenn McConnell on Friday
city's figures, which officials noted were conservative, encouraging.
The proposal is rife with submarine themes. Visitors
up a ramp with exhibits to start their tour on top of the building,
where permanent displays would point out historic sites in the
Hunley's history. Then they would descend in a turret that led into
the elongated museum.
Inside would be reproductions of the other Hunley
subs - the
Pioneer and American Diver - as well as the Housatonic, the Union
blockader that the Hunley sank on Feb. 17, 1864.
There is also space set aside for other Civil War
artifacts, and for a theater. A working reproduction of the sub would
be docked below the museum.
From there, the reproduction could be winched up into
The Hunley itself would sit at the harbor end of the
museum in a
case with a view of the harbor and Fort Sumter.
Riley says the city would donate about $5 million
aside for a Hunley wing at the Charleston Museum to the project and
help with fund-raising efforts for the rest. The city raised more
than $20 million in donations and sponsorships for the South Carolina
The city's figures show that, even in lean times, the
could still operate at a $40,000 annual profit.
Contact Brian Hicks at 937-5561 or email@example.com.
Used with permission of The Post and
Courier and Charleston.Net