Mount Pleasant

Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

In recent years, Mount Pleasant has become one of Charleston’s most sought after areas in which to live and work. This community, which is bisected by Highway 17, serves as both a retreat from the hustle and bustle of downtown Charleston and a destination unto itself, with shopping, dining and historical monuments to complement downtown’s more well-known venues. Nowadays, Mount Pleasant is accessible from downtown via the Arthur Ravenel, Jr. bridge (which replaced the Grace Memorial and Silas N. Pearman bridges in 2005).

When the first bridge, the Grace Memorial, was constructed in 1929, it opened up new opportunities for residents and visitors alike. Up to that point, Mount Pleasant had only been accessible from downtown by boat, or by car much further up the coast. The isolation and quiet was what attracted its first group of villagers to the area in the 1700s. The Old Village stands on what was once an old plantation: the original plantation home, Hibben House, was built in 1759. It remains a part of the historic district at 111 Hibben Street. In 1803, local James Hibben set out to organize the area into a more discernible village: the result was the beginning of Mount Pleasant’s Old Village.

Old Village in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
Old Village in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

Although the area was small, only about thirty blocks, the young Mount Pleasant survived and grew through such hardships as the Civil War (begun at Fort Sumter in the harbor just off the shores of the Old Village) and the Great Depression. By the 1930s, Pitt Street had become the commercial center of the Old Village, boasting a hardware store, a pharmacy, a post office and a grocery store. While the role of Pitt Street has changed over the years as Mount Pleasant expanded away from the Cooper River and out towards Awendaw, a trip to the Old Village shows that the history and charm has not been lost. The Pitt Street Pharmacy, which has been around since 1938, still serves up burgers and shakes at its soda counter, and prides itself on the customer service and home delivery that has kept it in business for the last eighty years. The post office has moved out of the Old Village, but you can still dine in the original building at the Old Village Post House, which is known for its emphasis on local food and inventive dishes.

The Old Village was named to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1973; this designation covered the original thirty blocks spanning from the Charleston harbor, Shem Creek, Royal Avenue and McCants Drive. In 1979, locals came together to create their own historic association, which expanded the protected area to include an additional seven blocks. The Mount Pleasant Historical Association aims to “protect, preserve, and enhance architecture of the Old Village, and to encourage harmonious grown and development.” Hopefully, these protections will ensure that the history and beauty of the Old Village last for generations to come.

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