Wednesday, April 2, 2014
A funeral parlor; a home for wayward girls; a halfway house; a bed and breakfast; a trailer park. Speculation over the future of a six-acre piece of property on Longstreet Street in Kingstree has been the topic of conversation since the first camellia was ripped from the overgrown yard. The answer however isn't as clear-cut as the bulldozer's blade.
When the Kingstree Federal Savings and Loan purchased the property known as the McCullough home the first goal was to clear what basically had turned into a jungle of overgrown, tangled camellias and azaleas. The vegetation was so thick that it completely camouflaged a beautiful two-story antebellum style home.
Crediting their banking practices that earned them a Five-Star rating they have the ability to invest their own capital that they have earned - not depositor's funds - into such things as multi-family housing. However, bank president, Rudy Matthews said when they decided to invest in something for the bank they chose the McCullough property. Matthews said planning strategies differ from other institutions. "We're not like a normal business that plans on next year," said Matthews who became president in 2009. "Our plans are based on minimum, five years."
He emphasized, "the bank's plan is - there are no plans." However, he said if the future continues to hold good things financially for the bank then at some point they will be able to develop the property - over time. "This is on a plan of 5 to 10 to 15 years. This is not next year, or year after next or five years from now." He added that down the road, they might locate an ATM or a loan mortgage office building on the grounds but he pointed out that the existing bank on Mill Street is about to undergo major renovations. "If we were going to fix this office up, would we be building something over there?"
There has been progress. The property is currently being cleared: Unfortunately dozens of heirloom camellias and azaleas were dug up in the process. Equally unfortunate are several oaks that towered above the landscape. More speculation surrounds the disappearance of the majestic trees; however, Matthews says their destruction was not of their doing. "Our plans were - we had it all worked out, with those beautiful oak trees and those dogwoods," said Matthews. "Well, those 100-foot, 50-ton gum trees fell on a bunch of our oak trees. That set us back."
The bones of the house are also under scrutiny. Matthews said there are several serious issues such as the roof and mold: problems that arise when a home is unoccupied for years. Matthews said the board has arranged to meet at the property to discuss what they will do next. "We'd love to be able to go in there with a million dollars and just say this is all we're going to do - we're going to fix it all up. That's not possible. But we can make it look really nice and make it look really pretty."
The future of the home may be uncertain but for the time being passersby can enjoy the unobscured view. "Our best day will be for tourists to come through Kingstree and instead of stopping at McDonald's and then heading to the beach or to Charleston, they would drive through and they would look and say, "Look at that beautiful old home. Look how much they fixed it up. Isn't it nice that Kingstree is finally doing something to make their town look good."