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West Ashley Flashback: Our Suburb in St. Andrew’s

The suburb of St. Andrew’s Parish sure has come a long way

Looking west to the suburbs of St. Andrew’s Parish. (Photograph courtesy of Cantey Hare)Looking west to the suburbs of St. Andrew’s Parish. (Photograph courtesy of Cantey Hare)

August 23, 2017
By Donna Jacobs | Contributing Writer

“Charleston’s New Suburb.” One might think this title was out of today’s newspaper. In actuality, this headline ran on page 8 of The Sunday News Oct. 2, 1887 issue of The News and Courier with a subtitle of “The Twin Villages in St. Andrew’s Parish.”

The article opens with: “One of the best evidence of Charleston’s vitality is the fact that a new suburb has sprung up during the period of her greatest disaster. Immediately after the cyclone of 1885 the villages of Maryville and Ashley, belonging to Mr. W.N. Taft, were laid out in St. Andrew’s Parish by Mr. W. B. Guerard and Mr. S. Lewis Simons, civil engineers, and with the opening of the New Bridge the building lots are offered for sale at a low price and on easy terms to actual residents, each lot being 100 feet by 50 feet, with a frontage of 50 feet on a street or avenue, and being sold for $5 in cash, the remainder payable in four years.” It might be effectively argued that the community of Maryville may have been one of our first planned suburbs in St. Andrew’s Parish.

Earlier that year on the front page of the June 2 issue of The News and Courier ran the headline “Our suburb in St. Andrew’s”. This article mainly focused on the profitability of truck farming and the potential for farmers and workers in this “thriving and growing section”. The reporter concluded that: “…St. Andrew’s in five years from now will be a different place.”

Fast forward to November of 1942 and the housing problem in the greater Charleston area had become “acute”. The expansion of the Charleston Navy Yard and the Charleston Shipbuilding and Drydocks Company had created an influx of personnel to the point that several thousand homes were being constructed in not only St. Andrew’s Parish but also the northern limits of Charleston. Details of the problem and the efforts to build as quickly as possible were outlined in a short article that ran in a Sunday edition.

In the July 2, 1945 edition, O.M. Hays wrote under the headline “Do You Know Your Charleston?” Early in 1938 a News and Courier reporter made a survey of suburban Charleston and was so pleased with the result that he wrote a glowing story about “the ‘amazing’ growth of residential areas outside the city. If that reporter could have gazed into some magic crystal and seen the suburban Charleston of today, he wouldn’t have believed it. It is doubtful if anyone, seven years ago, even imagined such phenomenal development as has taken place across the Ashley River and beyond the northern city limits.” In 1938, this reporter recorded 29 communities, 1102 housing units, and 4793 people. In 1945, the V-Housing Corporation alone had 6 developments in the works comprising over 2800 homes occupied by approximately 11,000 people. Phenomenal might be an understatement.

Hays explored the suburban adventure in the greater Charleston area. He outlined the growth, the influences that created the need for housing and the infrastructure services that developed in parallel with the housing. A keyword search of The News and Courier using “Do You Know Your Charleston?” produced over 1500 articles with this title. These articles gave the readership the opportunity to learn more about this suburban explosion in the greater Charleston area.

People, Places, Stories about the history of St. Andrew’s Parish? Contact Donna Jacobs at westashleybook@gmail.com.

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