MCRD Parris Island completes restoration of Charlesfort-Santa Elena historical site

Aug. 31, 2018 — Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island personnel have completed restoration work on the Charleston-Santa Elena National Historic Landmark, which was damaged during Hurricane Matthew in October 2016 and by Hurricane Irma in September 2017.

On Oct. 8, 2016, the site, which is located on the depot, suffered considerable soil displacement caused by the uprooting of trees during the storm. MCRD PI officials conducted surveys on the site Oct. 12 and 18, and discovered the tree damage and accumulated vegetation from salt marsh over-wash had created a public safety issue, and the potential to put archaeological and anthropological resources at risk, leading to the temporary closing of the site.

Despite several budget and funding difficulties, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Atlantic which provides services to Parris Island, contracted with environmental engineering and services company TetraTech to conduct damage assessments of the site, as well as take conservation measures to protect historic resources while observing environmental and safety requirements. In December 2017, January 2018, and July 2018 contractors and MCRD Parris Island personnel oversaw restoration of the site, ensuring the work followed guidelines set by the state of South Carolina and the U.S. Department of the Interior. Restoration work was completed July 25, 2018 and reopened to the public following a safety review on August 20, 2018.

In 2001, the Charlesfort‐Santa Elena archaeological site complex was designated a National Historic Landmark. Charlesfort (1562 to 1563) was a French site established by Jean Ribaut and Santa Elena, founded in 1566, was the first capital of Spanish Florida. The importance of the site transcends the 16th century, with the oldest artifacts dating from 8,000 to 6,000 BC. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the Charlesfort/Santa Elena site was cleared and used for plantation agriculture, and after the Civil War, it was home to families of freed slaves.