Chimney focus of World War II-era fight

WEST ASHLEY, S.C. (WCIV) -- A fight is brewing over a piece of history in West Ashley. A chimney once part of a German POW camp is the focus of the battle.

The West Ashley land owners have long wanted the chimney torn down and removed, but others argue its a piece of history.

Now Charleston's city council has weighed in, meaning one side's hopes are going up in smoke.

A brick fireplace and chimney are all that's left of a German POW camp. The family who owns the property wants the structure gone -- and now even the city agrees.

But at least one neighbor wants to protect what he calls a piece of history.

"This is the only thing above ground of any of the World War II prison camps in the Charleston area. We need to save it. It speaks for what history represents," said Charles Cotesworth Pinckney Means.

Neighbors say the family who owns the land is Jewish, and the chimney is a harsh reminder of the atrocities of the war.

But Means says history is history and should be protected.

"We need to keep history alive for those who don't know about it. Kids don't know. They don't know about a dial phone or record. We need to keep that history alive for them," he said.

Means may be disappointed, but there's little he can do now.

This isn't the first time the family fought to do what they wanted with their land. Bulldozers were ready to move in once before when the county gave its approval.

But the city annexed the land, so the case had to be heard again. Now city officials agree the chimney and fireplace can come down.

"At this point, no one can do anything about it. If it's not protected, there's not much we can do about it," said Means. "If they ever get their T's crossed and I's dotted."

Means hopes that if something does happen to the chimney, parts of it will be preserved.

City council did approve the land to be used as a single family home, but property owners have not said what they plan to do with the land.