Old Chicora is an adaptive reuse of a historic elementary school in North Charleston, SC led by Metanoia, a local non-profit community development corporation. When complete, the site will feature an early childhood education center, affordable artist work studios, a center for the performance arts and office space for non-profit organizations and local businesses.
The Chicora Graded School is an elementary school built in the 1930s. With additional wings built in the 1950s, the school has 58,000 square feet including a 300 seat auditorium. Known later as Chicora Elementary, the school closed in 2012. The City of North Charleston agreed to purchase the abandoned school from the Charleston County School District upon its closure. With the school's closure, Metanoia Community Development Corporation advocated for a new elementary school to be built in the Chicora neigbhorhood. The new Chicora Elementary School opened in 2016, just one block from Old Chicora along Rivers Avenue.
Sitting vacant for the last six years, Metanoia has assembled a development team to re-purpose the old school and bring life back to the historic structure. Old Chicora will be a community-centered development that benefits the surrounding neighborhood while also attracting additional investment to the area.
In 2007, the Charleston County School Board decided to close the historic but aging Chicora Elementary School at Chicora & Success Street in North Charleston. Recognizing the school as a community asset, Metanoia led a community-based campaign to keep the elementary school in the neighborhood when the initial school board plan called for bussing all of the children out of the Chicora neighborhood. In time, this effort resulted in an agreement for the Charleston County School Board to build an elementary school in the block adjacent to the old campus at Carner and Success Street.
To facilitate this development the City of North Charleston purchased land for the new school and swapped the old school campus for the land for the new school. Students vacated the Old Chicora elementary school campus in December of 2012 and spent four years at a nearby, temporary campus before moving into the $23 million new Chicora Elementary School in the fall of 2016. Metanoia has since been partnering with the City of North Charleston to pursue an adaptive reuse plan for the historic elementary school.
In 2016, Metanoia engaged with Clemson University’s Graduate Architecture Program and the citizens of the Chicora neighborhood to do a series of design charrettes for the former campus. Usages were determined that were both cost feasible and amenable to the community that Metanoia serves. A plan is now progressing to return Old Chicora School to its historic beauty and put it into use as an early childhood center, community arts space and non-profit office space.
In 2018, Metanoia hired McMillan Pazdan Smith as the architecture & design firm for the project. Currently, the architecture & engineering team are in the design development phase and expect to have final construction drawings complete in Spring 2019.
The facility will compliment Metanoia’s overall asset based community development efforts where we work to build leaders through year round youth leadership programming, establish quality housing and generate economic development.