Historic ship remains threatened by leaky roof; Historical Commission working to find who is responsible for fix

  • Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Clayton Stairs/Times The remains of the Browns Ferry Vessel, one of Georgetown County’s oldest artifacts, are kept on the third floor of the Rice Museum building in Georgetown. A leaky roof could cause damage to the structure.


The Rice Museum's Prevost Gallery in Georgetown has a leaky roof and the Browns Ferry Vessel, one of Georgetown County's oldest artifacts, is in danger of deteriorating due to water damage.

The Georgetown County Historical Commission met Friday to discuss how the holes in the roof can be repaired.

They voted to check with County Council about the lease agreement and to find out who is responsible for maintenance of the roof.

This is the second time the commission has sought input from the county on this issue, the first being when the county filed a claim for the roof on behalf of Rice Museum, Inc.

Georgetown County administrator Sel Hemingway said the lease agreement for the Rice Museum building states that Rice Museum, Inc. is responsible for all maintenance and repairs to the building.

He added that the Rice Museum, Inc. is also responsible for providing insurance for the building, but they have chosen to use the county's insurance provider.

“Technically, that is their insurance agency,” Hemingway said.

“We made the claim on their behalf and the adjuster denied the claim saying there was no apparent damage resulting from an insurable event. In their opinion it was due to normal wear and deterioration.”

Jim Fitch, director of the Rice Museum and member of the Historical Commission, said the roof did not leak until after the Front Street Fire last Sept. 25 when firefighters sprayed the roof with high-pressure water and dragged hoses across the surface.

He said that the roof was last replaced in 2006, so the damage was not normal wear and deterioration.

He said replacing the roof would cost about $20,000 and that the deed for the building is in the name of the Georgetown County Historical Commission.

Frank Beattie, chair of the commission, suggested that a water intrusion specialist be brought in to determine the cause of the roof damage.

“I think we have standing to make a claim to the insurance company,” Beattie said.

History of Historical Commission

1968 — The Georgetown County Historical Commission was formed by an act of the South Carolina General Assembly

1970 — The commission acquired the Town Clock building from the City of Georgetown and the Rice Museum opened

1973 — The commission acquired the Kaminski Hardware building

1978-81 — The Kaminski Hardware building was renovated

1985 — the Home Rule Act placed Georgetown County Historical Society under the Georgetown County Government

1989 — The Rice Museum Prevost Gallery opened in the Kaminski Hardware building

1992 — The Browns Ferry Vessel was installed on the third floor of the Kaminski Hardware building

1997 — At the request of Georgetown County Council, Rice Museum, Inc., a private non-profit corporation, takes over operation of the Rice Museum from the Historical Commission

2000 — Georgetown Maritime Gallery featuring the Browns Ferry Vessel opened

2005 — Second floor exhibits of the Kaminski Hardware building opened and wins 2005 South Carolina Heritage Tourism Award

2010 — Approval of plans to renovate the Town Clock building passed U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, and S.C. Department of Archives and History

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