Recreating, Renovating a Piece of History

Anyone who lives near or regularly passes by Colonial Lake has surely noticed progress is moving quickly on the park renovation. The demolition work is complete and a significant amount of renovation work has been done.

One of the most interesting parts of this process has been the research that has gone into recreating the original tabby used to repair the seawall surrounding the lake. Crews believe the wall was built up in layers over the years using a variety of materials. As part of the renovation, workers are exposing the original surface: more than 100-year-old tabby, made of oyster shells that are crushed and burned, then mixed with sand and water.

Creating a solid tabby material that adheres to and blends with the original wall isn’t easy. A sample of the tabby was sent all the way to the Scottish Lime Centre Trust, which deconstructed the sample and provided a report on how to rebuild it. The materials being used in this new tabby are from France, and the oyster shells are from the Gulf Coast and Georgia (all South Carolina oyster shells are required by law to be recycled back into state oyster beds).

Also, an important piece of the renovation project pertains to improving the water quality of the lake. The existing pipe that moves water from the Ashley River in and out of the lake has been cleaned and repaired, a new water control structure built, and a second inlet/outlet added. There will be two places where the lake water can be drained and added as needed to maintain better quality and keep the water from becoming stagnant.

Other construction highlights:
– Crews have replaced the stormwater drainage pipes under Rutledge Avenue.
– Once the tabby repairs to the seawall are complete, it will be topped with a beautiful granite coping stone that will frame the lake. A brick garden wall along Rutledge Avenue is almost complete, which will also provide an extensive amount of extra seating at the park.
– The construction schedule currently projects the infrastructure work to be complete in early March. At that point the Conservancy and our volunteers will begin planting the ornamental gardens in the park, to be ready for the beauty of springtime in Charleston!

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