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Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce and Visitor & Convention Bureau Moving Visitor Center and Offices to Historic Arsenal Building in Downtown Beaufort, SC
(Beaufort, SC) – The Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitor Bureau is pleased to announce that it will be moving its Visitor Center and staff offices to the historic Arsenal Building located at 713 Craven Street in the National Register Historic District of Downtown Beaufort, SC.
In addition to serving as the official Visitor Center for the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce and office space for staff, plans include using the building as a meeting and event venue and exhibit space. The objective of using this building is to fulfill the demand for a downtown visitor center, increase traffic not only downtown but throughout the region with expectations of increased visitation numbers at the Arsenal and to preserve the Arsenal building for public use.
The Chamber is tentatively scheduled to move into the Arsenal in the spring of 2010.
The Chamber Board of Directors as well as the Visitor and Convention Bureau Board of Directors voted unanimously to approve entering into a lease with the City of Beaufort. “We are thrilled that the City of Beaufort has offered us the opportunity to make use of this historic space to greet the many visitors to our area each year and take advantage of the vitality and redevelopment in downtown Beaufort to help increase business for all of our members” said Robert Halfacre, Chair of the Chamber Board of Directors.
“The historic significance and visual appeal of the Arsenal has an immediate and direct connection to our core target-audience of cultural and heritage travelers and we see the Arsenal as the launching point for tourism development in Northern Beaufort County,” added Randall Burch, Chairman of the Visitor and Convention Bureau Board of Directors. “This is a turning point for our organization, the local tourism industry and the community as a whole and we thank the City of Beaufort for their commitment and support.”
Negotiating team member Council Member Donnie Beer stated, “Since 1991 when I was first elected to City Council, I have worked on preserve the Arsenal and its service to the people of Beaufort. Leasing the Arsenal building to the Chamber is a major step toward ensuring that the building will be maintained and preserved. It also underscores the City’s commitment to re-investing in our tourism industry, one of the few ways that the City can grow its tax base and revenue streams without increasing the tax burden on residents and local businesses.”
Brief history of the Arsenal Building
The Beaufort Arsenal has an extensive history which includes housing soldiers, artillery and museums. It was constructed of tabby in 1798 by Thomas Talbird and for generations served as the home of the Beaufort Volunteer Artillery. The building had deteriorated substantially by 1852, when it was rebuilt out of brick in the Gothic Revival style with funding from the town. In addition to serving as the home of the B.V.A., the building has also served as a venue for parties, plays, political events, fundraisers, lectures and dances. In 1939, the Beaufort Museum was chartered and housed in a first-floor wing constructed during a 1930s expansion funded through the W.P.A. In 1966, the National Guard (successor to the B.V.A.) moved out of the building, and the museum relocated into the second story following a renovation. For many years the building housed government offices as well as the family court and museum. In 2001, the City leased the building to Historic Beaufort Foundation. During its tenure, HBF renovated the interior of the building with the use of its Revolving Fund, and in 2008-9 the exterior was restored with a Save America’s Treasures grant that it secured from the National Park Service. Additional funding support came from the City of Beaufort and Beaufort County. The Foundation turned the keys and the museum artifacts back to the City of Beaufort this year, after which the City of Beaufort requested proposals from interested parties as to the future of its building.
The Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce is a non-profit membership-based organization working to build a healthy economy and improve the area’s quality of life. The Chamber assists in developing and supporting an economic, political and social climate favorable to businesses throughout the Beaufort Region.
The Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce Visitor and Convention Bureau is the Designated Marketing Organization (DMO) for the city of Beaufort, the town of Port Royal and the unincorporated and Sea Island regions of northern Beaufort County. The VCB partners with a wide variety of non-profit organizations, businesses and government to market the lodging and hospitality industries to visitors.
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