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Saving historic smokestacks in Charleston

November 8, 2021 GMT

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Work is almost done on a short-term project that is part of an effort to preserve two towering smokestacks in a South Carolina city.

The stacks are in the East Side neighborhood of Charleston. The Post and Courier reports that they are being preserved as a reminder of the area’s industrial past.

The stacks had been considered in danger of collapse because the fire-proof bricks inside the chimneys had loosened. The nearly complete $527,000 project to prevent their collapse includes removing the inner lining and securing various weak spots.

Big cranes were brought in to remove stainless steel lids from the tops of each stack so workers could be lowered down into them. The contractor installed new lightning rods to ensure the workers’ safety, then the inner bricks were removed. Steel bands were wrapped around the chimneys to provide extra bracing.

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By the end of this first phase of work in early December, only the red exterior bricks will remain, said Jason Kronsberg, the city’s director of parks. He said a second phase would include more bracing and further stabilization of the stacks to help them withstand hurricanes and earthquakes. But currently there are no plans to schedule that phase.

For established residents of the East Side, the chimneys — which once belched toxic smoke — are viewed with nostalgia. The Post and Courier reports that while they they connote a past that included conflict and racism in Charleston, they also are a point of historic pride and community identity.