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Folly Beach Council Gives $20,000 to Save the Light
Thursday March 11, 1999  —  Charleston Post and Courier

FOLLY BEACH - Save the Light Inc. got a $20,000 boost from City Council for the Morris Island Lighthouse this week.

The donation will help the nonprofit group with the purchase and preservation of the lighthouse it bought for $75,000, Mayor Vernon Knox said Wednesday.

"This is the largest donation to date," said Robert New of the grassroots group. "We will be making an appearance before the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission, Charleston County Council and eventually the major municipal corporations. It's a partnership"

At the same time, the state House has approved $500,000 in its version of the budget for the lighthouse preservation. "We're hoping to get a like sum or more on the Senate side," New said.

New said the group has raised about $30,000.

Meanwhile, Save the Light Inc. is expected to petition Folly Beach to annex the Morris Island Lighthouse into the city limits. The 127-year-old beacon of bricks is stranded in a shallow sea off Folly Beach.

"The lighthouse has suffered from three and a half decades of total neglect," New has said.

New told City Council on Tuesday that his group voted unanimously to annex into the city.

Knox said he suspects the council will approve the annexation when the request is made, although it won't generate any revenues. "There would be no loss from it either."

"It's about the prestige of having it in the city more than anything," he said.

Last month's purchase is expected to set in motion a study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the lighthouse's most serious problem: How to protect the submerged foundation.

A preliminary estimate by the corps shows the job could cost between $1 million and $1.5 million, provided no major foundation flaws are found.

While shoring up the foundation is the most urgent task, there is plenty of other work to do in a second phase.

Save the Light Inc. met Wednesday with corps officials to get the process started. Meanwhile, artist Jim Booth will offer a limited edition of 400 "Save the Lighthouse" prints. The lower number prints may be auctioned.

"Our goal is to raise $1 million" New said. "We anticipate the print alone will bring in about $80,000."

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