In 2009 the Palmetto Trust for Historic Preservation discovered four structures in a neglected part of Anderson's historic district that appeared to be historically significant.
The previous owner had allowed them to become slums and the city of Anderson intervened to clean up the property. In response to a request from the Anderson Board of Architectural Review, our Director, Michael Bedenbaugh, explored the cabins and determined that 3 out of the 4 had the possibility of being originally constructed as slave dwellings.
PTHP negotiated a purchase from the previous owner and went to work building relationships hoping to attract positive attention and investment to the property.
The Anderson Historic Foundation stepped in and helped with cleanup and securing the properties to protect from vandalism. Joe McGill of the slave dwelling project made one of his first overnight stays on the property while being documented by a local filmmaker from Anderson University and produced by Dead Horse Productions. Take some time to watch the film here: This Place Matters
Unfortunately, the depressed nature of the neighborhood and the dilapidated nature of the structures made it difficult to attract any capital from local investors that was willing to rehabilitate these places.
It took over 7 years before a serious buyer came forward with intention to save these places for the future.
Herman Keith grew up in Anderson and, though currently living in Orangeburg and working as an adjunct Professor at Claflin College, still maintains loyalty with his hometown.
Herman came forward and invested in the slave dwellings to ensure two goals could be met:
1) that these structures and the story they tell would not be lost, and
2) That they can be a place to enrich at risk youth in the area through the arts.
The Palmetto Trust is working hand in hand with Herman to raise the money necessary to get started on his project. Within a few weeks of starting the planning phase, Herman raised over $5000 for the project.
Our short-term goal is to raise another $25,000 to stabilize the foundations and roofs so as to ensure the soundness of the structures will not be compromised any further. Over the next year, Herman will create a new nonprofit organization with board oversight so as to develop the programming rooted in Herman's vision.
Anderson Slave Dwelling Fund
PO Box 506
Prosperity, SC 29127