Beaufort 300 reaches goal of 300 donors for Tricentennial historical monument

A conceptual rendering of the monument.

Update: The markers are being unveiled.

Beaufort 300, the fundraising arm of the historic city's 300th birthday, has reached the goal of 300 contributors to erect updated historical markers in the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park.

Individuals, families, businesses and non-profit groups joined 'Beaufort 300,' for a minimum of $300 each, said Kevin Cuppia, a downtown Beaufort businessman and chairman of the Beaufort 300 group.

"I want to say 'thank you' to everyone who contributed to the Beaufort 300. We are moving ahead with Dr. Larry Rowland to write the information for the historical markers and we'll have them in place soon," Cuppia said.

Those who have contributed are reminded to return the previously provided postcards to ensure the correct listing and spelling on the monument. The goal is to have all the verified names in final form by March 16 so that the markers can be put into production.

In late 2010, Cuppia and a few others came up with an idea: Find 300 people to contribute $300 each toward the cost of new markers that celebrate Beaufort's 300th birthday. Corporate and non-profit contributions also were sought out,

"We weren't sure what to expect," he recalled. "It was the recession, everyone was worried about finances. But we also knew that people in Beaufort appreciated her history and would want to be a part of it. It's wonderful to be able to say we were right, that more than 300 people and businesses decided to invest in these markers for the Tricentennial."

The Tricentennial celebration ended Dec. 31 with a Founders' Night II in the Waterfront Park. A packed park enjoyed music and historical readings, including the actual charter that founded Beaufort on Jan. 17, 1711. A huge fireworks show ended the night and the 300th birthday party.
Important figures in the City's history include Jean Ribaut, Marquis de Lafayette, Robert Smalls, Laura Towne and Col. John "Tuscarora Jack" Barnwell.

"We looked at a lot of different ways to commemorate the Tricentennial, and adding attractive new historical markers to the Waterfront Park was the best idea," said Erin Dean, chairwoman of the Tricentennial Committee. "We had tremendous support for the fundraiser, even in the down economy. Contributors' names will be on the monument that we expect to stand for at least the next hundred years."

Beaufort was founded Jan. 17, 1711 by the English, although its beginnings date back to Spanish explorers in 1514. Beaufort was named for Englishman Henry Somerset, Duke of Beaufort (1684-1714), one of the Lords Proprietors of Carolina.