A contractor hired by SCE&G to move an electrical transformer from inside the Dock Street Theater to a nearby location outside is accused of causing more than $1 million in damage to the French Protestant Huguenot Church of Charleston, according to a complaint filed in the Charleston County Court of Common Pleas on July 15.
The damage to the church, a National Historic Landmark originally built in 1845, includes extensive new cracks in the building's façade, at least one prominent crack in the plaster inside the building, and the "failure" of more than 6,000 square feet of exterior stucco associated with damage to the brick and mortar underneath.
The city issued a permit allowing the trench box to be installed under the sidewalk in front of the Huguenot Church, about eight feet from the west façade of the church building. The complaint, filed by attorney Allen Gibson Jr., alleges the damage was caused by a large track hoe used by Anson Construction Company on the sidewalk outside the church.
The City of Charleston began renovating the Dock Street Theater in 2007 and should be completed by early next year. The damage was quantified by comparing the present condition of the church to a survey of the structural condition of the neighborhood prepared at the behest of the city at the outset of the Dock Street Theater project.
In light of the damage, SCE&G abandoned the relocation of the transformer, leaving it inside the theater.
The church maintains that given their experience in performing work in downtown Charleston, SCE&G and Anson should have foreseen that damage to adjacent structures was likely. It further maintains that even if the utility and its contractor exercised the utmost care in undertaking the work, they are still strictly liable for the damage and must pay for the necessary repairs.