The Lowcountry Innovation Center is located in the former Charleston Naval Yard, Building NH68, which was formerly a supply and storage building for the Charleston Naval Hospital. The Charleston Navy Yard, begun in 1902 and decommissioned in 1995, created a vast landscape of buildings, roads and docks over the course of nearly a century. With a primary mission of building and maintaining or refitting vessels, the navy yard at Charleston witnessed the evolution of naval warfare. Wooden ships gave way to steel destroyers, diesel engines gave way to nuclear power, and old-fashioned ammunition paled in comparison to nuclear missiles capable of traveling more than a thousand miles. The Charleston Navy Yard also challenged old-fashioned roles in the workforce, and employed thousands of women and African Americans by the 1940s.
During the years of World War II, 1941-1945, the Charleston Navy Yard experienced unprecedented and unsurpassed expansion. New docks, buildings and roads created an entirely new “South Yard,” while expansion in the northwest part of the shipyard included a brand new hospital complex. Reflecting common theories in naval hospital construction, the structure had a main, central building connected to eight ward buildings to separate patients. Building NH68, a supply and storage facility for the Charleston Naval Hospital was built in 1943, a year after the completion of the hospital.
Somewhat segregated from the main building, this two story concrete frame building mimics the white masonry exterior of the hospital complex. It was a utilitarian structure, and housed employees who would shuttle supplies in and out to support the patient located several yards away. Part of a small “city” unto itself, the building contributed to a district of not only healthcare, but recreation, living quarters, dining facilities, outdoor sports, a library, barber shop and even a soda fountain. Employees bustling in and out of this building were part of a larger community, one committed to the war effort of the 1940s. In this noble service, this structure served a vital role for the health and well-being of generations of patriots.
In 2005 NH68 was purchased by Alan St Clair, of Lead Dog, LLC. Alan believed NH68's military-grade construction and robust infrastructure would make the ideal environment to create true Innovation Center, where various knowledge-based companies of different sizes could thrive in a cooperative atmosphere. The Lowcountry Innovation Center opened in February of 2009 and is now the professional home of more than 20 companies and houses over 200 employees.
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