The abandoned town of Colonial Dorchester is located only 15 miles up the Ashley River from Charleston. This location makes for one incredible photoshoot. Something about the eerie features of the concrete tabby fort, old brick bell tower, and cemetery give it the perfect mysterious feel. In fact, the tabby fort is the best preserved in the country. Tabby is a seashell concrete mixture by the way.
Walking the grounds you can really feel the history come to life. An entire archaeological town that has yet to be unearthed is all around. I even had the pleasure of speaking with one of the rangers at length regarding the history of this location and more specifically the responsibilities of preserving a historic location.
One thing that I personally find very fascinating is what they decide to repair and leave in disrepair. The bell tower was originally built in 1751 and over the years it has needed several minor repairs. What do you decide to repair? How much repair work should be done? Those are the kinds of questions I was interested in finding out.
The biggest addition had been the replacement of the window frame. The original had been rotting and falling apart for several years. They were left with little choice and removed it. The original, of course, had four window frames. So I thought it was interesting that they only replaced one of the four. They also left the frame glassless and unpainted.
I know that isn’t the kind of thing that puzzles most people, but it puzzled me. Who makes those kinds of decisions? It led me to realize that in many ways all preserved ruins are all man-made representations of what ruins should be. Once you begin to preserve a ruin it no longer is truly a ruin at all. Instead, it becomes very similar to a still frame photograph. The goal becomes to preserve the structure outside of time.