Rock Hill city officials may have put the trough before the horse.
Or, more specifically, the beautification of the intersection of White Street and Elizabeth Lane seems to have begun well before the completion of the White Home restoration it is meant to complement.
The centerpiece of the four-corner project is a 19th century iron trough that once served thirsty horses on the very corner on which it was installed. The refurbished trough sits under a pump that -- once the current drought ends -- will send water gushing into the trough, where it will be recirculated so no water is wasted.
The trough is flanked by a curving brick wall with ironwork on brick pillars. Those pillars are repeated on the other corners.
The city also installed new mast arms and crosswalk buttons to make the surrounding intersection safer for cars and pedestrians. These improvements will enhance traffic flow and improve sight lines for motorists making right-hand turns from White onto Elizabeth.
The project wasn't cheap. The city spent $141,000 in public money for the mast arms and crosswalk buttons. Another $68,000 was used to repair the trough and install the brick displays, 80 percent of which came from a state-funded roadway beautification project.
The project no doubt was well intentioned, and the surroundings may evolve to match the grandeur of the brick installations. But the wall and trough now sit next to a humble service station, while the other brick columns stand next to a church sign and an unoccupied building.
Meanwhile, the White Home restoration has a ways to go. Private fundraising and grants have raised about $1.7 for the project, of which $1.3 million already has been spent on renovations. Boosters still must raise about $1.2 million in private donations to finish the job.
The progress so far on the restoration is breathtaking. Residents have been able to watch as the once-crumbling building has slowly been transformed into the stately home it had been in the 1800s.
We are confident the White Home and its grounds eventually will be completely restored and will be a jewel in the city's historic district. And we salute members of Historic Rock Hill and others who have moved this project along.
But the city, we think, jumped the gun on installing the old trough and brickwork. It seems questionable whether the project will ever completely blend with the surroundings.
Meanwhile, the city has spent nearly $160,000 on the project. We support efforts to beautify the city and revive economic activity downtown, but the money might have been better spent somewhere else -- perhaps on yard-waste bins.
Trough and brickwork at corner of White Street and Elizabeth Lane look out of place.
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