UNSCRIPTED ‌ Saving Grace? 

Let the old bridges go. Please.

It's not unreasonable to expect that, on the rare occasions when an important historic structure in Charleston gets bulldozed, a chunk of it be preserved for the sake of sentimentality or posterity or whatever other warm and fuzzy notion one ascribes to that urge. But sometimes a historic structure is, aesthetically speaking, butt ugly. (This is often particularly true of things that get bulldozed.) And an isolated chuck of these structures can be even less visually inspiring on its own than when it was a part of the original hideous structure.

Such is the case with the π-shaped concrete support structure presently junking up the vista on East Bay Street near the new Ravenel Bridge on-ramp. The support, which looks to be about 30 feet high and the approximate color of bathwater after you've washed your dog, once braced the Silas Pearman Bridge, which itself was anything but easy on the eyes. (An engineering marvel in its day, yes, but a shape and design only an architect's mother or a blindly nostalgic Charlestonian could love.) Now that the bridge itself has been demolished and all other nearby supporting legs have been blasted into thankful oblivion, this one dismal hulk remains -- encased in a century's worth of road grit, grime, and bridge drippings, choked with decades of auto exhaust, a lonely, homely arc de troublous rising above the surrounding detritus of deconstruction. Pretty, it ain't.

Yet on the sides of the structure, someone has spray-painted, in large, pink letters, the word "SAVE."

Say what?

Back in July, Post and Courier columnist Robert Behre made an argument for preserving a piece of the Grace Bridge very near this spot, specifically one of the tall steel support beams near the East Bay on-ramp. Now, James Law, a spokesperson for the Ravenel Bridge, says the City has instructed them to spare the Pearman's lone remaining concrete support, which he says will stay right where it is. They're also preserving one of the Grace Bridge's supports, he states.

Somebody please tell me we're not going to have to look at that execrable concrete blight for the next 100 years. If we must, can we at least cover it in less unsightly graffiti?

Let's get something straight: the four Corinthian columns of the old Charleston Museum's east facade, preserved at Cannon Park since the structure burned down in 1980, are lovely, elegant, and sublime architectural artifacts. A crap-covered, poured-concrete support is not. I understand the urge, believe me; I might develop a sentimental attachment to an old pair of tennis shoes that have served me exceptionally well -- but when it's time to move on to new pair of shoes, I don't create a shrine to the old ones in my living room where visitors can reflect on the differences in craftsmanship between the old pair and the new. I throw them away, because they're disgusting and they have no aesthetic merit in and of themselves.

Back in July, some kid won a lottery drawing and with it the opportunity to punch a button setting off the massive fireworks display on the bridge's opening weekend. How about another lottery: the winner punches the demolition charge blasting that eyesore into the big concrete yard in the sky. Now that'd be a memory worth preserving.


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