By Barney Blakeney
Some 16 years after first being proposed groundbreaking the construction of South Carolina State University’s new 1890 Research and Extension building in Charleston was held August 28 at 35 Lee St. The two-story approximately 13,000 square foot building will provide programmatic and administrative space for comprehensive and structured research-based programs designed to enhance the economic, educational, social and physical well-being of participants.
It will provide outreach to rural, urban, and suburban residents with an emphasis on underserved communities to improve their quality of life through wise resource management. It will serve residents of Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties. The Charleston facility is one of three similar facilities – one at the SCSU campus in Orangeburg and the other at SCSU’s Camp Daniel in Eloree. The facility is scheduled to be completed in September of 2020.
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 and Technology programs and services.
The initial meeting for the Charleston facility with former 1890 Program Executive Director Dr. James Walker, former of Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr., and Associate Administrator of 1890 Programs Delbert Foster took place in 2003. The project was approved the same year. Charleston acquired the land from SCDOT after the demolition of the Silas Pearman Bridge in 2005. SCSU was granted the land shortly before Riley left office in 2015.
Foster, who had been working to bring the project to life since the beginning said, “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.
“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,” said Foster.