Pictured above the Federal style house constructed between 1798 and 1805 by Colonel William Cunnington, owner of Magnolia Umbra Plantation. The completely restored house, after hurricane Hugo, functions as the administrative offices of Magnolia Cemetery Trust. At the present this house has major termite damage. I have inserted Mr. McDowell's last newsletter in which he explains the necessary repairs to insure the soundness of the structure and the cost involved. Without these repairs the structure will deteriorate beyond repair. To be apart of this effort and make a tax-deductible donation please make checks payable to:
Magnolia Cemetery Trust
P. O. Box 22873
Charleston, SC 29413
Dear Friends of Magnolia:
It is very hard to believe that it has been three years since our last communication. The holiday season is upon us once again!
The cemetery is an irreplaceable part of our city, state and national cultural heritage, but much of the historic landscape, buildings and artistic grave markers are endangered as a result of serious neglect. Although Magnolia Cemetery has been a perpetual care cemetery since 1954 and perpetual care has been mandatory since 1974, even today many lots remain without perpetual care. Grave markers are private property, and owners are accountable for the repairs and maintenance.
Some family members have faithfully overseen the upkeep of their loved ones' graves for many years. However, as families have moved away and descendants have passed on, a number of graves have been neglected. A great deal of professional and volunteer conservation work has been performed on damaged headstones, but every year additional grave markers are affected by problems associated with age, ground settling, and inclement weather.
As I reflect on the substantial damage received by Magnolia Cemetery resulting from hurricane Matthew the unexpected cost of the clean up it is obvious that the annual operating budget has suffer. We still have quite a way to go but we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. We hope and pray that all our readers in the areas hit by Matthew made it out okay.
In past years, we have been able to use the accrued interest from our portfolio to supplement the operating fund paying for most daily expenses. As you know, interest rates are very low and prices continue to rise.
Most recently, we purchased several new weed-eaters, lawn mowers and made much need repairs to our riding lawn mower. We replaced all deteriorated wood and painted the entire walk bridge. During the October 2015 flood we had the extra expense of repairing our breached flood gate. The Gate was repaired and the threaded valve stem was replaced. All of these expenses were included in the general maintenance and upkeep of the cemetery. However, the massive tree removal, resulting from hurricane Matthew, totaled over $15,000 made quite a debt to our reserve fund.
We are now faced with the financial burden of making extensive repairs to the Plantation house which functions as our office. This buildings along with the architectural value of the landscape by Edward C. Jones are the elements that qualifies the cemetery to be on the National Register of Historic Places. Being on the NRHP allows us to apply for certain grants. So you see how important it is to maintain these structures.
We have completed a very thorough interior and exterior assessment. The assessment in itself was expensive, $20,000 plus.
The project is set up in three phases:
Site Mobilization……………………………………$ 24,037.86
Immediate Priority………………………………….$ 89,561.05
Short Term………………………………………….$ 88,116.89
Long Term………………………………………….$ 1,981.85
Total Project………………………………………..$ 203,697.65
If the project is not completed in one continuous stage the site mobilization would be applied each time the set up phase is repeated.
The cemetery has come a long way, because of friends like you, but there is still much work to be done. Your tax-deductible contribution will help us to preserve this cultural treasure by providing funds to help pay for much-needed conservation work on the buildings, road and pathways as well as provide necessary tools, equipment and other improvements to this National Landmark.
Yours very truly,
G. Simms McDowell, III
G. Simms McDowell, III