Protect and preserve
Wed, 05/11/2022 - 9:12am admin
MaeRe Skinner recipient of national DAR ‘Historic Preservation Recognition Award’
If there is ever an effort to protect or preserve places of historic significance in the Cainhoy community, you can bet longtime resident MaeRe Skinner will be front and center.
Skinner, whose family ties to the area date back generations, has been advocating for her community for as long as she can remember. She worked tirelessly to safeguard local historic lands, preserve relics of the past, and honor the lives of those laid to rest in this once rural enclave on the shores of the Wando River. And her efforts have not gone unnoticed.
On April 16, Skinner received the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) “Historic Preservation Recognition Award.” According to the DAR website, the award “recognizes and honors an individual or group that has done recent remarkable volunteer work at the community level.” Skinner, a member of the Charleston-based DAR Rebecca Motte Chapter, was nominated for the honor by her chapter regent, Katie Hyman, who described Skinner as “an excellent candidate.”
“MaeRe Skinner has worked on historical preservation projects more than half her life,” wrote Hyman in her nomination letter. “She is a Cainhoy, South Carolina, native whose father, a local shrimper, taught her the importance of preserving her natural surroundings and the remnants of those who came before us.”
At the core of Skinner’s nomination was her work on behalf of the “Old Ruins Cemetery” (also called McDowell Cemetery), where many of her family’s ancestors are buried. Located off Clements Ferry Road, the site dates back to pre-Revolutionary War times and includes an adjacent African American burial ground. Within the cemetery’s borders are the foundational remains of the late 17th century “Cainhoy Meeting House,” used as a field hospital for Patriots during the Siege of Charleston. Skinner’s late father, Thomas Burgess Chandler, was a charter member of the nonprofit Cainhoy Methodist Church and Cemetery Old Ruins Corp., which was founded in 1988 to oversee the site. Skinner has been at the helm of the organization since 2006.
“My grandfather and father always maintained it, passed down its history, and now my husband and I do along with our son, daughter and grandson,” Skinner told The Daniel Island News in 2018.
Skinner and others in the community have fought to protect the cemetery from encroachment by the nearby Oak Bluff development, which is currently expanding close to the site. Last year, Skinners’ efforts, along with several other individuals, prompted a halt in construction when what appeared to be possible unmarked graves were discovered during clearing activities taking place near the cemetery’s borders. A study later determined burials were not present, so construction activities soon resumed. But Skinner continues to advocate for the cemetery today to ensure community access to the property remains unobstructed. She and others are also continuing to push for the developer to replace and expand fencing around the cemetery to include the African American burial ground.
Receiving recognition from DAR for her work was especially meaningful, said Skinner.
“I was absolutely thrilled and so surprised to be honored with this wonderful award from the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution recently, by my lovely Chapter Regent, Katie Hyman,” said Skinner. “My work in chairing the corporation that cares for the wonderful old Cainhoy Cemetery and Old Meeting House Ruins there has been an ongoing project for so many years. I will continue to fight for protection and recognition of our Cainhoy ancestors and others since the Meeting House was established in 1699 by the Dissenters.”
According to Hyman, Skinner’s important preservation efforts extend beyond Cainhoy.
“She wears many different hats and volunteers to help in any way she can,” stated Hyman. “She is currently serving as the chapter’s curator. The curator oversees the care of the chapter’s large artifact collection on display at the Old Exchange Building. She says her mantra is ‘Protect and Preserve,’ and she tirelessly strives to do this every day.”