SC State’s 1890 Research and Extension Program holds groundbreaking for new Charleston facility

SC State officials and Charleston City officials break ground at the site of the new 1890 Research and Extension Center in the downtown Charleston area

SC State’s 1890 Research and Extension Program held a groundbreaking ceremony August 28 to celebrate the construction of a new 1890 Research and Extension building in Charleston, South Carolina. The new facility will house paid and volunteer staff who, in conjunction with university stakeholders, will design, implement and deliver programs in the areas of:

  • Agriculture
  • Small farm
  • Natural resources
  • Adult and community leadership
  • Family life and nutrition
  • 4-H and youth development
  • Community education
  • Life-long learning opportunities
  • Technology programs and services

The purpose of the building is to provide programmatic and administrative space to ensure comprehensive and structured delivery of research-based programs designed to enhance the economic, educational, social and physical well-being of the participants. 

The concept of the project began during an internal assessment conducted in 2001 by the leadership of the 1890 Program. Members of the program determined that the program did not have adequate programmatic or administrative spaces. As a result, the team submitted an 1890 Facility Grant Request to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Institute of Food and Agriculture to build 1890 Research and Extension Centers in the state of South Carolina.  

The Charleston building is one of three buildings in the works. The facility for SC State’s campus was approved in 2001 and the Camp Daniels facility was approved in 2002.

The initial meeting for the Charleston facility with Dr. James Walker, former 1890 Program executive director, former mayor of Charleston, Joseph P. Riley Jr., and Delbert Foster, current associate administrator of 1890 Programs, took place in 2003. The building was approved the same year.

After presenting the community benefits of the 1890 program and requesting that the university receives a donation of land to build the facility, the 1890 Programs team received full support from Riley and the Charleston City Council.

John Tecklenburg became mayor of Charleston in 2016, continuing the support of the project. During the groundbreaking, he spoke of unity.

“With all of the tragedies that have taken place, it’s important to come together. What better opportunity than this to knit these communities together? 

Foster, who had been working to bring the project to life since the beginning, humbly addressed the audience with gratitude during the event. 

“It took quite some time, but we persevered through the changes and challenges of the university as a whole. As an alum, a downtown Charlestonian and a member of the 1890 team, I am so excited to see this day. He (God) may not come when you call him, but he is right on time,” said Foster. “We’re thankful for Mayor Tecklenburg, the Charleston City Council and their dedication to help make it all happen. We would also like to thank all former and current federal, state and local representatives, university board of trustees members and the greatest alumni in the world for their strong and sustained support over the last 16 years.”

Members of the program, including recently appointed Executive Director, Dr. Louis Whitesides, can officially pronounce that all three projects have become a reality and will productively serve the communities in which they are built. 

“The Coastal Research and Extension Center in Charleston is a tangible reminder of the charge of 1890 Research and Extension, which is to inspire a lifelong passion for learning, develop the capacity of individuals and groups of all ages through their actions, elevate the capacity of communities and to improve their quality of life. This new facility is a bold reflection of commitment and solidifies that commitment to this region,” said Whitesides. 

The building is scheduled to be completed in September of 2020.

The 1890 Research and Extension Program at SC State University offers an important public service for rural, urban and suburban communities, with a special emphasis on limited-resource families, who are in need of the latest research-based scientific knowledge and sustainable practices in agriculture, financial management, business development, parenting, health, nutrition and technology.


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