030818 Pawleys Island: Chapel returns home after one more delay
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The contractor more than doubled the number of pilings in the new foundation.

Pawleys Island: Chapel returns home after one more delay

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

The Pawleys Island Chapel was due to move back home to its perch over the marsh after spending a week on dry land for the first time in 70 years. Jimmy McCants, a board member of the nonprofit that manages the island icon, wasn’t surprised that this move, like the one last week, was delayed.

Workers from C-Way Marine Construction of Murrells Inlet have worked every day since the chapel was moved off its deteriorating foundation to set rows of new pilings into the marsh that borders Pawleys Creek. “They haven’t taken a day off,” McCants said.

The repairs to the foundation were scheduled to start in January, but the project needed additional permits to shift out of the right of way on Myrtle Avenue and farther into the marsh. When cranes arrived to move the building across the street to a vacant lot, movers discovered they couldn’t lift the 1,500-square-foot building. After a weekend sitting on a pair of gently sloping I-beams, the chapel was finally moved with a 400-ton crane that remained parked at the Pawleys Island Nature Park in preparation for the move back this week.

The move was scheduled for Wednesday morning, but McCants got a call late Tuesday afternoon that the crane operator wasn’t available. He had an emergency job rescuing a bulldozer that was stuck in the mud at another site. McCants planned to be back at the chapel Thursday morning to see it put back on its new foundation. With the improvements to the foundation, the building shouldn’t need to move again for another 70 years, he said.

There were 18 pilings under the chapel. Many were eaten away by time and marine organisms and held upright by recent bracing. There are now 35 pilings in five rows of seven. Each row is tied together by a 6-inch by 12-inch beam secured with bolts. “He overbuilt, but that’s what we wanted,” McCants said.

The chapel will now sit 8 feet farther into the marsh and be elevated an extra foot. It will be bolted to the new foundation.

“We’re going to put it back exactly the way it was,” McCants said. “I hope it will see another 70 years.

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