Summerville’s Parks and Recreation Department has had an eventful year. In March, a beautifully renovated Hutchinson Square was unveiled.
Coming up later this month, the Rollins Edwards Community Center at the Armory will open to the public. Later this year, a master plan will be created for the Bend on the Ashley- more than 35 acres of riverfront property adjacent to Jessen Boat Landing.
Located at North Hickory and West 3rd North streets, the former National Guard Armory, sat vacant for many years before the Town of Summerville began planning in 2014 to transform the building into a community center.
Slow-going at first, the renovation project garnered a lot of attention from the public. Several public hearings produced an assortment of ideas on how to utilize the space.
Parks and Recreation Director Doyle Best considered all of the input as he oversaw the redesign of the 14,000-square-foot building.
Now, as the Rollins Edwards Community Center prepares to open, the facility contains three multi use classrooms, a wellness center, fitness classroom, outdoor pavilion, landscaped courtyard, catering kitchen, and a basketball court painted with stripes for volleyball and pickleball.
“I foresee a lot of different uses taking place here,” Best said.
Along with indoor recreation, fitness classes, and meeting space, the facility will also be available for banquet rentals and serve as an additional resource for the Faith Sellers Senior Center located nearby in Doty Park.
The $4.4 million project is nearly wrapped up but the Town Council still needs to approve a fee structure for the facility before an opening day is scheduled for later in June.
“We’re going to keep it very affordable, we don’t want to burden anybody,” Best said.
Town of Summerville residents will pay a lower membership rate than out of town users, Best said.
The buildings’ exterior was kept similar to what it was before. A frieze created by Willard Hirsch, one of South Carolina’s most prominent sculptors, remains at the entrance of the facility. It depicts soldiers from the Indian Wars through World War II.
The interior retained its original bricks and block windows. A wooden pavilion was added to the south end, at the existing rollup door. A landscaped courtyard on the north end can accommodate a small wedding ceremony.
Best is pleased with the way the renovation turned out.
“Seeing what it was before and how run down and bad it looked- to see it looking the way it does now-I really like the whole thing,” Best said.
Pam Zanowski is the full time facility manager. She previously served in different roles with Charleston County Parks and Recreation, the City of Charleston Recreation Department, Summerville Family YMCA and has volunteered with the Friends of the Dorchester County Parks.