In a private residential community, when you run across a set of initials tied to rules and regulations (HOA, CCR) one tends to bristle because of a stereotype as old as the hills. We don’t see many (or any) hills in the wide-open expanse of the lowcountry. Similarly, we don’t see a stagnate and stiffened stereotype at Callawassie when interacting with the Architectural Review Committee (ARC). On the contrary. On this island, the ARC is bestowed with the tremendous responsibility and honor of maintaining the balance of great beauty.
This duty is one that ARC Chair Dr. Marshall Mintz takes seriously if not personally, as well as his fellow committee members. It’s also one that is spelled out in the purpose of their work, which can be found in the public ARC guidelines (available here) which reads:
To preserve the natural beauty of Callawassie Island and its setting, to maintain Callawassie Island as a pleasant and desirable environment, to establish and preserve a harmonious design for the community, and to protect and promote the value of property.
Both brand and heart of a place like Callawassie can be found in that artistically inclined and altruistically committed mission. Keywords that embrace the need to “preserve the natural beauty” through “harmonious design” are the very rhythm of the island and its inhabitants.
Mintz and his family have owned property across the causeway for just under 20 years, but have built within the last five and have a fresh sense of the process, from problems to possibilities. Thankfully, on land like this lowcountry locale, there are far more of the latter.
It’s not easy to maintain a standard as high as can be consistently found within this exclusive residential community, where there is already such a strong sense of preservation, balance of people and nature, and an individual, if not communal sense of taking responsibility for the land and maintaining sense of peace. Callawassie Island residents need only to drive down the wide and winding road to be reminded of the value of what has been entrusted to their care, and they know a little bit about what it takes to keep it that way.
In that respect (in every sense of the word “respect”) the ARC committee can be seen as far less than a bureaucratic hoop or red tape, and more of a concierge of quality assurance – both for one’s individual estate and the setting and scenery.
“The relationship is mutually beneficial to the property owners (buyers/builders), the committee as far as our responsibility, and the place itself. We’re responsible to each other and we’re all a part of the reason it looks and feels the way it does to live here,” Mintz says, adding with a laugh, “Even if you’re just changing the paint color from Country Brown to Country Brown.” (If you know, you know. It’s the signature hideaway tree bark tone that keeps the retail signage at bay and is lovely on a Callawassie chateau.)
Even in this, Mintz also doubles back with esteem and paints the picture of a picture-perfect place. “Anyone considering building on a lot or doing exterior renovations to their home – whatever you’re doing from a ground build to changing shingles or shutters, a repaint, any change done to the structure externally, including landscaping and even tree removal, ARC involvement is required but it’s also an essential partnership. We’re here to help you and to safeguard what we have here.”
There’s a common thread which runs through the commentary from Mintz, other committee members, residents, and Callawassie property management leadership when it comes to personal passion forplace and the commitment to sheltering that value. Mintz states it well saying, “My greatest satisfaction is helping people integrate their construction of dream house or improvements to their home into the atmosphere, tone, and visual qualities of the island in order to maintain the appearance of the development.” The ARC’s “one job” is to look after Callawassie Island and assure a cohesive, beautiful big picture.
Callawassie Island and the way it’s been tenderly, tentatively inhabited was made for each other – literally. Made to flow with the trademark tides, the curve and sway of spartina, the palette that from home to land, paints and builds with colors of coastal countryside: the sandy shades of palm and oak, glassy grays of sea and sound, and the lifegiving, low-lying green of lowcountry marsh.
As Mintz and company says, “It’s not patchwork – it’s whole.”