HAF Position on the Pascalis Block Historic Buildings

The City of Aiken acquired several properties downtown as part of Project Pascalis.  All the properties are within the Old Aiken Overlay District, and five of them are listed on the South Carolina State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) register as contributing to the historic character of the district. The listed structures are the Hotel Aiken, the Palmetto Block just south of the hotel on Laurens Street (also called the Beckman Building, currently home to Vampire Penguin and Ginger Bee), the Johnson-McGhee Building on the southeast corner of Richland Ave and Newberry Street, Warneke Cleaners on Newberry St and the former Aiken Journal and Review building on Richland Avenue, just west of the Johnson-McGhee building (also called The Gun Rack, currently home to Taj Aiken).  The façade of the Aiken Journal & Review building has been significantly altered, and further expert evaluation is required to determine whether enough of the original fabric of the building remains to justify its designation as contributing.

HAF’s position is that, per the City’s ordinances, all contributing historic buildings must be preserved and cannot be demolished. In addition, all alterations to the exterior of contributing historic buildings and all new infill construction must comply with the City’s ordinances and guidelines. These provisions apply to the proposed RFP for redevelopment of the Hotel Aiken and the SRNL office building project. 

HAF has made its views known to representatives of the City and SRNL and both have committed to follow all applicable historic preservation ordinances and guidelines.  HAF will monitor ongoing events and plans carefully.

The City also acquired the Holley Motel on Richland Avenue and the Newberry Hall building on Newberry Street.  The Holley Motel does not meet the criteria for protection as a historic structure, and HAF believes it detracts from the integrity of the Old Aiken Overlay District.  HAF is not aware of any proposal that would affect the Newberry Hall building.