RIDGELAND – Steady progress continues on the Daniel O. Morris Center for Lowcountry Heritage as it moves toward a late summer opening in downtown Ridgeland.

The first phase of the project includes the renovation of the classic Sinclair Service Station, the center’s focal point and a fitting space for the center’s first exhibit.

“Visitors will be reminded of a different era when they come through the entrance on Jacob Smart Boulevard into the Sinclair Station,” said Richard Allen, trustee of the Daniel O. Morris South Carolina Lowcountry Heritage Trust, the private operating foundation for the center. “Once inside, they will experience exhibits and special events that tell the compelling story of coastal highway culture and America’s love affair with the automobile, and how both impacted Ridgeland and the surrounding Lowcountry counties.”

As a tribute to the late Danny Morris and his Handy Dan’s convenient gas stations, the trust, which was created to preserve the heritage of the Lowcountry, acquired the Sinclair Station to add to the collection of vintage buildings previously purchased by Morris, a prominent local businessman born and raised in nearby Tillman.

Dating from 1937, the service station was a significant refueling stop for traffic traveling along U.S. Highway 17, the key coastal highway between the Northeast and Florida from the 1930’s to 1980’s prior to construction of Interstate I-95.

Allen said a new director for the facility will be announced soon. Future plans are for the center to expand into some of the adjacent buildings and possibly offer space for compatible uses such as a café, to facilitate programming or meeting venues.

Located in the heart of downtown Ridgeland on US 17, the Center for Lowcountry Heritage will be a learning and exhibition center dedicated to preserving and nurturing the history, culture and spirit of Jasper County and surrounding counties.

Housed in a collection of vintage buildings, with the architecturally distinctive Sinclair Service Station as its focal point, the center will feature ever changing exhibitions, interactive and dynamic learning opportunities, cultural offerings, storytelling and other art forms.

The center is made possible from a trust left by the late Daniel “Danny” Morris, an entrepreneur and community leader who was active in the historical preservation, education and economic development of the area he called home.