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Next goal: Morris Island
Friday, December 15, 2000  —  The Lighthouse Directory

The stage is now set for the preservation of the Morris Island Lighthouse, via state ownership and a lease agreement with a local group committed to its restoration. The success of the lighthouse campaign should give new impetus for the conservation of Morris Island itself.

The historical importance of Morris Island is recognized nationally, in large part because of the feature film "Glory", which depicted the heroic assault on the island's Confederate fort - Battery Wagner - by the black Massachusetts 54th regiment. The island saw some of the bloodiest fighting in the Palmetto State during the Civil War.

Charleston County's Comprehensive Plan also cites the undeveloped island's value as natural habitat, and county zoning has provided a measure of protection with conservation zoning. That zoning category limits development on the highly erosive island to a single structure.

But zoning can be subject to change. A proposal for the property's annexation to the city of Folly Beach, to allow for a resort development of 43 dwellings, was rejected in January after strong public opposition.

But who's to say another avenue for its development won't be sought?

Ted Banta, director of the S.C. Battleground Preservation Trust, says Morris Island and nearby Long Island are among the state's most important Civil War sites needing protection.

Long Island is currently being considered for development, though this week's rejection by a state agency of a permit to build a bridge to the island by the state Office of Ocean and Coastal and Resource Management is expected to delay those plans.

The preservation campaign for the lighthouse, started on a shoestring by a few citizens, should encourage continuing efforts for the conservation of Morris Island and other important historic or natural sites in the ever-growing metropolitan area.

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