Save the Wood

The group behind the “Save the Hall, Y’all” initiative also wants to salvage the trees recently cut down at the old City Hall by creating art out of the wood.

This spring, students in the woodworking program at the Brunswick Community College Southport Center will repurpose the trees into bowls, plates, signage, benches, walking sticks and other “commemorative items.”

The art will be used to fundraise for Up Your Arts’ (UYA) possible undertaking — if approved by the city — to convert the old Southport City Hall and former Brunswick County Courthouse into an arts-focused community center.

The estimated-$2 million project would be partly paid for through fundraising efforts, in addition to sponsors and grants.

The live oaks canopying the circa 1844 structure were removed earlier this month after an arborist found their deterioration was a hazard to pedestrians and neighboring landmarks.

“It seemed a shame that these iconic live oaks, identifiable in all of the historic photos which we have seen, would be lost to the ravages of time,” said John Keiffer of UYA.

Along with a few volunteers, Brunswick Community College instructor Spencer Hayden, who is heading the project, hauled two trailers and one pick-up truck bed of logs back to Southport from the Carolina Tree and Landscaping Service storage facility.

The woodworking program has been dubbed, “Save the Wood, We Should!”

Tina Powers, president of UYA, and Keiffer met with Mayor Jerry Dove and alderman Rick Pukenas last Wednesday as a follow up to the group’s pitch in October.

“They were both still very supportive and positive and had no in-depth questions concerning our proposal,” Keiffer said.

UYA’s vision is to transform the building’s downstairs main hall into an exhibition gallery and the upstairs grand hall into space for public meetings, performances and other events. The conceptual design also features several art studios and a gift shop, which would feature work by Brunswick Community College students.

Southport aldermen are considering a resolution at their next meeting that would authorize city officials to move forward with the project.

The next meeting is at 6 p.m. on Thursday, November 14 at the Southport Community Building. Citizens interested in speaking may sign up for public comment before the meeting.