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dunes properties of Charleston is a real estate, vacation rental and property management company representing the Lowcountry with almost 80 exclusive Charleston beach vacation rental properties, 70 real estate agents and employees, four full-service offices. Nobody knows the Charleston Coast better.

Isle of Palms Office

1400 Palm Boulevard
Isle of Palms, SC 29451
843.886.5600

Real Estate Inquiries:
realestate@dunesproperties.com
Vacation Rental Inquiries:
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Folly Beach Office

31 Center Street
Folly Beach, SC 29439
843.588.3800

Real Estate Inquiries:
realestate@dunesproperties.com
Vacation Rental Inquiries:
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The Real Estate Studio

214 King Street
Charleston, SC 29401
843.722.5618

Real Estate Inquiries:
realestate@dunesproperties.com
Vacation Rental Inquiries:
vacations@dunesproperties.com


Kiawah Seabrook Office

1887 Andell Bluff Boulevard
Johns Island, SC 29455
843.768.9800

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Category: Interesting Charleston Facts

Charleston Sweetgrass Baskets and Weavers

You’ve seen them — African-American women, men, and children sitting on corners of the City Market, or at Saint Michael’s Church on Broad and Meeting streets, or along Highway 17. No matter the season, 100-degree sun be damned, these folks remain steadfastly focused on their craft: sweetgrass baskets.
Sweetgrass baskets
An intricate work of art, the sweetgrass basket is a sought-after piece of memorabilia. Tourists visiting the Lowcountry see the baskets woven before their own eyes and are given a glimpse of the history behind them. It’s impossible to come away thinking these sweet-smelling masterpieces (think fresh hay) are anything less than special.

The History

The sweetgrass basket wasn’t always a piece of art – they were made out of necessity. Today, the folks you see crafting them are Gullah, descendants of slaves taken from West Africa and brought to the coast of South Carolina and Georgia in the 1700s to work on plantations. In addition to free labor, plantation owners gained a wealth of knowledge and skills, such as basketry.

The Materials

So what are the baskets made from? Nowadays, sweetgrass. But the skill was honed in the early days using marsh grass, or also known as bulrush. Using the needly marsh grass, slaves were able to coil extremely sturdy work baskets that came to be known as fanners. Fanners were used in the rice fields for winnowing, the process of tossing hulls about so that the chaff could separate from the rice. Work baskets also held veggies, shellfish, and cotton.

It was in the early 1900s that sweetgrass was employed to weave with, in addition to pine needles and palmetto fronds, which added flexibility and bend to the creations and allowed for more intricate designs, such as loops.

The Evolution of a Basket

You can find sweetgrass grown wild in moist, sandy soils near the sea, hence the aplenty supply in the Lowcountry. In the fall, the grass is a beautiful purple before fading to white.

When it’s time to collect the grass, you simply grab the green grass by the handful, with one foot on the root, and pull it from the ground. Then it’s time to lay the grass out in the sun to dry for three to five days, which is when it shrinks and becomes a more beige color.

Sweetgrass baskets

On average, a good-sized basket takes 10 hours to weave, not including the time it takes to source and dry the materials. The price on a larger piece? About $350, which isn’t a lot considering the labor that went into creating it. You can also find simpler designs for $40, or elaborate ones for thousands. However if you’re really on a budget, you can always also find a sweetgrass rose, which are not only below $5 but also simply gorgeous little works of art — just like the baskets.

Hands-On

To learn more about this incredible tradition passed down through so many generations and to have a chance to weave a basket yourself, follow basket maker Sarah Edwards-Hammond on Facebook. She frequently conducts basket classes for both adults and children.

Where have you spotted sweetgrass weavers in the Lowcountry?

The Lighthouses of Charleston

The lighthouses of Charleston have intrigued visitors and locals alike for years. You have to admit it, there’s something so charming and endearing about a lighthouse. More than a beacon for sailors, lighthouses fill folks with awe and wonder — whose paths have they lit?

Charleston is home to two historic lighthouses: the Morris Island Lighthouse and the Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse. Here are their stories.

Lighthouses of Charleston

photo credit: Donnie Whitaker Photography

Morris Island Lighthouse

We love lighthouses so much so that we find ourselves fighting to save them, as many Charlestonians have done with the Morris Island Lighthouse — a much beloved part of the Holy City’s history.

Though every lighthouse that has stood on the island survived the elements, they were defenseless against other forces like the Civil War. The lighthouse you can still see today, accessible via Folly Beach, was constructed in 1873. But a lot has changed since then. The lighthouse is no longer active, although in 2016 it was lit momentarily to mark the 140th anniversary of its first lighting in 1876.

Once upon a time, Morris Island was once made up of three islands. But erosion eventually led to the three becoming one, large singular island, which you can see today. The lighthouse was originally surrounded by 1,200 feet of shore but by 1938 it had reached the water’s edge. Due to erosion and the constant changes to the Folly Beach coastline, it’s now in the middle of the water, accessible only by boat at low tide.

Save the Light: In 2007, an organization was formed called Save the Light. Its mission? To preserve the decaying Morris Island Lighthouse, a cause many locals feel passionately about. After all, it’s become a part of our landscape. After a year, stabilization for the structure was achieved, with the first phase of the operation costing a cool $3 million. Now in phase three, the lighthouse is sure to stay a cherished part of Charleston’s history thanks to the valiant efforts of SaveTheLight.org.

Lighthouses of Charleston

photo credit: Donnie Whitaker Photography

Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse

The lighthouse on Sullivan’s Island was put there by the U.S. government back in the 1960s. Designed by a triangle obsessive named Jack Graham, the lighthouse itself is shaped like a triangle — with one of its points aimed at the ocean, which allows it to withstand 125 mph winds. On January 7, 2009 a 74-year-old Graham, and his wife, ventured up to the top of the lighthouse for one last look.

The first time they saw the light of the lighthouse was in 1962. Inside, lighthouse keepers enjoy modern conveniences like AC and an elevator (it takes 74 seconds to reach the top!). But the lantern room at the tip-top must be accessed via another trip up a 25-foot ladder.

When first activated, the lighthouse featured a terrific 28-million candlepower light made possible by carbon arc lamps ($900 a pop), and it was the second brightest light in the western hemisphere! Lighthouse keepers had to adorn asbestos welding suits when accessing the lantern room. Due to annoyed neighbors, the light was downgraded eventually to barely over a million candlepower.

Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse is still in beautiful working order today and is visible from 26 miles.

The lighthouses of Charleston may (for some) be reason enough to visit our coast, but for most of us they are everyday beacons, iconic symbols that add to the allure and history of our town.  They stand tall, watching over this magical place we call home.

Plantations Near Charleston, A Stroll Through History

Plantations Near Charleston

The city of Charleston is bursting with culture and history that begs to be explored, but if you venture a little farther outside of Charleston, you’ll unlock an essential piece of Lowcountry history. The plantations near Charleston offer more than lush gardens and stunning architecture. They provide visitors a glimpse into the South’s complicated past, in addition to the old customs and traditions of the Lowcountry.

Whether you’re lucky enough to call Charleston home or you’re merely visiting for a few days, meandering through the Lowcountry’s famous plantations is a must. Take a stroll through the following plantations to experience their undeniable beauty and get a unique look into the intricate history of the South.

Plantations Near Charleston

Magnolia Plantation

As one of the oldest plantations in the South, the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens should not be missed. Founded in 1676 by Thomas and Ann Drayton, this majestic and historical landmark has been occupied by the same family for over 300 years and has witnessed many notable moments in the history of the United States.

However, the plantation’s history isn’t the only thing that draws thousands of tourists to Magnolia each year. The gardens have a rich history of their own, and their luscious beauty makes the Magnolia Plantation one of the top wedding destinations in America.

History of Magnolia Plantation

In 1676, Thomas Drayton and his wife Ann traveled from Barbados to make a life in the new English colony of Charles Towne (later to become Charleston). They built the Magnolia Plantation and a small garden along the banks of the Ashley River, which provided them with immense wealth through the cultivation of rice.

When you take a guided tour of the plantation, you will hear how African Americans brought rice with them to the Lowcountry, transforming the agriculture and economy of Charleston. There are also four slave cabins, where African American slaves lived and worked on the plantation during this time.

The Magnolia Plantation has withstood many difficult times and witnessed prominent events in America’s history. During the Revolutionary War, the Drayton sons would fight as soldiers against the British. Later, the family would undergo hard times when the Civil War broke out and threatened the future of the plantation.

By opening Magnolia Plantation and Gardens to the public in 1870, the Drayton family was able to preserve the plantation and their livelihood.

The Romantic Magnolia Gardens

As the oldest and one of the most famous gardens in America, the Magnolia Gardens are teeming with stunning horticulture. Explore over 100 acres of Romantic-style gardens that offer something special no matter what time of the year you visit.

You can thank Reverend John Grimké Drayton for much of the beauty seen in the Magnolia Gardens today. To make his wife feel more at home after relocating from Philadelphia, he introduced the first azaleas in America and planted the first outdoor variety of camellias as well.

His ministerial career motivated him to recreate the Garden of Eden, and anyone who tours these gardens can see that he did a spectacular job. With its unrivaled beauty and extensive collection of native flora, the gardens are largely what saved the Magnolia Plantation from financial ruin.

Additional Attractions and Tours

After exploring the Drayton house and the gardens, nature-lovers can take a boat or train tour that takes them through the cypress wetland habitat and the location of the old rice fields. On these tours, you’ll get to see plenty of wildlife that call the beautiful Magnolia Plantation home.

In addition to these tours, don’t forget to take the kids to the plantation’s petting zoo and nature center. The zoo contains both domesticated and wild creatures, many of which are native to the state, including the gray fox, beaver and bobcat.

Plantations Near Charleston

Middleton Place

If you’re looking for the perfect combination of natural wildlife and history, Middleton Place should be on your list of places to visit in Charleston. Nestled on the banks of the Ashley River, Middleton Place is home to America’s Oldest Landscaped Gardens, abundant wildlife and historic plantation stables.

It’s easy to feel like you’ve been transported back in time at Middleton Place. Costumed craftspeople work on-site, and heritage animal breeds are present in the stable yards. Handcrafted carriages transport visitors around the carefully preserved plantation, providing an authentic experience.

History of Middleton Place

Built in 1705, Henry Middleton came into possession of the house through his marriage to Mary Williams in 1741. Since then, the plantation has remained under the same stewardship for 320 years.

From colonial times to the years following the Civil War, the Middleton family have played significant roles in American history. Many family members were influential political figures, beginning with Henry Middleton, who was the second president of the First Continental Congress. His son Arthur was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and Arthur’s son was the governor of South Carolina and the Minister Plenipotentiary to Russia.

William Middleton, an ardent secessionist, signed South Carolina’s Ordinance of Secession in 1860. In 1865, the plantation was occupied by Union troops, who burned the main house and northern wing. William lacked the funds for major restorations, and the small restorations that he did manage were upset by the Charleston Earthquake in 1886.

The following generations dedicated themselves to restoring the plantation and gardens to their original splendor. In the 1920s, the family opened the gardens to the public, and the plantation was added to the National Register of Historic Places. It officially became a National Historic Landmark District in the 1970s.

Life at Middleton Place

The House Museum and Eliza’s House should not be missed during your stroll on the plantation. Both places give visitors a special glimpse into the lives of the Middleton family, the freedmen who served them, and the many enslaved people who worked on the plantation.

The House Museum includes fascinating artifacts donated by the Middletons, including paintings, books, furniture and documents that date back to the 1740s. The house itself is a sight to see, as it is the only portion of the plantation that retains its original structure.

Eliza’s House is a freedmen’s dwelling that depicts the stories of over seven generations of slaves who occupied the plantation’s grounds up until the Civil War. Named after its last occupant, Eliza’s House offers tours to discuss the domestic life of slaves and freed people, in addition to their laborious work out in the rice fields.

Touring the Grounds and Gardens

To experience the beauty and functionality of Middleton Place, seeing the grounds and famous gardens are a must. The plantation’s plentiful land gives visitors the chance to imagine how Middleton Place functioned during the 18th and 19th century. In fact, many of the animal breeds you see at the plantation today were the same ones used to work the land centuries ago.

You can also take a self-guided tour through America’s Oldest Landscaped Gardens, which contains centuries-old camellias, azaleas, magnolias and other flora that cover the beautiful grounds.

Plantations Near Charleston

Drayton Hall

Situated on the Ashley River about 15 miles south of Charleston, Drayton Hall is the oldest preserved plantation in America, retaining nearly all its original structure and historic landscape.  Built in the 1740s, the stunning George Palladian plantation also features a Memorial Arch that represents one of the oldest documented African American cemeteries in the country.

Drayton Hall also happens to be located just down the road from the Magnolia Plantation, making it easy to visit both in a single day if you are feeling ambitious. Whether you dedicate a full day or a half-day, Drayton Hall is a must for those who want to unlock a major piece of African-American and Lowcountry history.

History of Drayton Hall

As the third son in the family, John Drayton knew that inheriting his birthplace at Magnolia Plantations wasn’t likely. The 37-year-old widower decided to purchase property along the scenic Ashley River in the 1730s, where he constructed an elite mansion during the late 1740s.

This architectural masterpiece was inspired by the Renaissance influences of Andrea Palladio and sits on over 630 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds. Drayton Hall is the only plantation that wasn’t destroyed during the Revolutionary War, making it a rare gem of the South.

Drayton Hall served as the hub for John Drayton’s enormous plantation empire. He owned over 100 plantations that spanned across South Carolina and Georgia, where thousands of slaves grew rice, cotton and indigo, as well as mining for phosphate.

The profits generated from the phosphate mining largely contributed to the Drayton’s ability to recover from the Civil War. Drayton Hall passed through seven generations of the Drayton family and was acquired by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1974. In 1977, it was opened to the public, and many of the Drayton family artifacts can be seen by all.

The African-American Cemetery

In addition to touring the stunning Drayton mansion, the plantation is also home to one of the oldest documented African-American cemeteries in the nation. Dating back to about 1790, the cemetery serves as the final resting place for over 40 people, both freed and enslaved. Some of the graves are named, but most are unknown.

Although touring the cemetery can be a heavy undertaking, it is a necessary stop if you want a true plantation experience. The cemetery grounds have been left in a natural state to comply with the wishes of Richmond Bowens, whose ancestors were enslaved at Drayton Hall. The cemetery and the plantation itself has largely remained unaltered, giving visitors a sense that they have truly stepped back in time.

Plantations Near Charleston

Boone Hall

Venture through the beautiful Spanish-moss-draped live oaks and gorgeous gardens of Boone Hall, and you’ll understand why it’s the most photographed plantation in the country. Located in Mount Pleasant (roughly 10 miles away from Charleston), Boone Hall is also the oldest operating plantation in the Lowcountry and has a thriving modern market.

The enchanting grounds of Boone Hall attract thousands of visitors each year, not only for its spectacular beauty and year-round activities, but also its rich history. Boone Hall’s enthralling exhibits and tours featuring Gullah culture and black history are the best of any American plantation.

History of Boone Hall

Boone Hall Plantation was founded in 1681 when Theophilus Patey was granted 470 acres on Wampacheeoone Creek, otherwise known Boone Hall Creek. It is believed that Patey gave his daughter Elizabeth and her husband Major John Boone about 400 acres as a wedding gift.

John Boone was one of the original settlers of the South Carolina colony and held several prestigious positions, including tax assessor and highway commissioner. The exact date of his death is unknown, but the will he created in 1711 left a third of the estate to his wife and divided the rest divided amongst his five children.

The plantation remained in the Boone family until 1811, when the property was sold to Thomas A. Vardell for $12,000. Boone Hall would have many owners, some of them leaving lasting impressions on the plantation.

When Henry and John Horlbeck came into possession of Boone Hall in 1817, the brothers would begin planting the famous Avenue of Oaks. The brothers were in the brick business, and many buildings in downtown Charleston feature their bricks, including Stephen’s Episcopal Church and St John’s Lutheran Church.

Boone Hall was purchased by Harris and Nancy McRae in 1955 and opened to the public in 1959. Now owned by William McRae, the historic grounds of the plantation can be toured by the public, while the other half of the plantation is used to produce crops such as strawberries, peaches, tomatoes and more.

Gullah Culture and Black History

What sets Boone Hall apart from other plantations is its amazing exhibits and performances featuring Gullah culture and black history.

Their Black History in America exhibit offers visitors the chance to take in educational and entertaining performances that take place in the nine original slave cabins, each built between 1790 and 1810.

Boone Hall is also the only plantation to feature live presentations from contemporary Gullah people who share their unique story and culture with visitors. Taking in a performance at the Gullah Theater is an experience that you won’t soon forget.

Boone Hall Farms Market and U-Pick Operations

Boone Hall has been providing crops and produce for the Lowcountry since the 17th century when John Boone first inherited the land, making it the oldest operating plantation in the nation.  Their continued success has allowed them to establish Boone Hall Farms Market, which officially opened in 2006, and the Boone Hall Farms U-Pick fields.

Boone Hall Farms Market features reasonably priced produce that is always fresh and local. Taking part in the U-Pick fields is a fun activity that you can do with the entire family, and you’ll take home a juicy basket of produce that you harvested in these historic farm.

The plantations surrounding Charleston, SC offer stately, historic homes, lush gardens, and an abundance of learning opportunities about early American life. If you’re planning a trip to Charleston, visit a historic plantation site for a rewarding experience that your whole family will enjoy.

Charleston’s Cobblestone Streets, Stepping Back in Time

Charleston’s cobblestone streets are just one of her many charms.  Though there are only eight left now, these historic streets were once much more common. It’s believed that the peninsula once contained over ten miles of cobblestone ways. Thankfully our streets now afford us a more smooth ride for the most part, but we’re still proud of the history the endearing cobblestones hold.

Charleston’s Cobblestone Streets

Here are a few facts you may not have known about the Holy City’s cobblestone streets:

So how did cobblestones get here in the first place? When the city was first settled, ships would use the stones as weights, weighing the boats down when they didn’t have enough cargo. Once the ships were emptied, off came the stones to make room for exported goods. Naturally, the smooth stones collected onto the wharves, or wharfs.

Anyone who has ever driven down a cobblestone street knows the bumpiness of the ride all too well. But the stones were a more sensible option than Charleston’s once dirt-based, muddy streets. The smoothness of the cobblestones made streets easier to navigate for the transportation mode of the colonial days: horse-and-carriages, and the addition of stones as streets were preferable to what you can imagine — based on the state of the peninsula now when it rains — were streets filled with mud and water when it rained.

Cobblestone streets, charleston sc

Chalmers Street, nestled in the French Quarter, is definitely the most well-known, and photographed, cobblestone street in the city. It’s also long been called Labor Lane, as rumor has it that way-back-when, a ride on the rockiest of roads caused nine-month-pregnant women to go into labor.

Another well-known cobblestone street in the city is called Adger’s Wharf, which is located South of Broad. Running from East Bay Street straight to the water, the bumpy road was a busy dock, originally called Magwood’s Wharf. But its current name came from a 19th-century Irish merchant named James Adger II who came to Charleston via New York in 1802 as a cotton buyer. He later opened a hardware store and established the Adger Line and became one of the country’s wealthiest men. Today Adger’s Wharf makes for a perfectly lovely shortcut to the harbor — and, if you like, to Waterfront Park — from East Bay.

At the bottom of Broad Street, near the Exchange Building, lies Gillon Street, another example of early cobblestone street paving in Charleston. It’s named after Alexander Gillon, who was a famous commodore of the navy of SC during the Revolutionary War. Later on, he founded the Charleston Chamber of Commerce, which today is the oldest Chamber of Commerce in America.

A slightly more secret cobblestone-filled street is Longitude Lane, though it’s actually more of an alley. It’s a beautiful path that leads to a narrow street with a handful of old single-family houses you’ll instantly picture yourself living in — because who is lucky enough to live on sweet little streets such as these?

What is a Charleston Joggling Board?

Charleston Joggling Board

Photo: Instagram User @froufrugal

If you’re from around here, chances are you’re pretty familiar with the Charleston joggling board. But at the inaugural High Water Festival last month, there were more than few out-of-towners who found themselves wondering about the funny-looking black “benches” situated in the shade around the food trucks. Sitting beneath oak trees with a Roti Rolls snack or a Diggity Doughnuts treat, a lot of folks were curious about the bouncing boards, so we thought we’d offer a little history lesson on how the Charleston joggling board came to be.

Charlestonians have long been acquainted with joggling boards. Found throughout the Lowcountry — in parks, outside buildings, on front porches — the joggling board is actually the brainchild of a family in Scotland. According to the Old Charleston Joggling Board Co., the first joggling board was built in Sumter County outside of Stateburg, South Carolina back in 1803, specifically at the Acton Plantation.

Charleston Joggling Board

On the Piazza of The Aiken-Rhett House. Photo: Instagram User @filly_lariccia

As the story goes, Mrs. Benjamin Kinloch Huger was suffering from severe rheumatism when she wrote to her family at Gilmerton Estate in Scotland, conveying that her condition left her unable to get any sort of exercise. The family responded with an idea — the joggling board — a 10-to-16-foot board that can jiggle. Sending a model for her to try, they suggested she sit on the board, bouncing gently as a form of exercise. Mrs. Huger sent the model to the plantation’s carpenter, and soon she was enjoying the benefits of the board, which sinks as weight shifts to the middle and can swing from side to side.

By the mid-1800s, joggling boards had caught on and become a full-on craze, filling piazzas, porches, and gardens throughout the Lowcountry. But after World War II, good-enough timber became difficult to come by and the fashionable benches began to fade. Fast-forward to the 1960s when Charlestonian Thomas Thornhill began constructing them again in his home for friends before eventually founding his own company. In the 1970s, his Old Charleston Joggling Board Company began to produce them again for the public — and the rest is history!

Charleston Joggling Boards

Photo: Instagram User @jennamarieweddings

These days, you’re likely to run into one at any given point in Charleston, and they’ve particularly grown in popularity at weddings in recent years. And joggling boards have always been popular with kids, as there’s something super playful about them, and of course they’ve always been great for rocking babies.

Our favorite story about the joggling board perhaps is this one: they were also called courting boards, where flirtations could flourish. In the Victorian era, a gent would sit on one end, the lady on the other. As they bounced, they’d gradually bounce closer together, eventually meeting in the middle.

Charleston Joggling Board

Photo: Instagram User @jlep1

Traditionally painted “Charleston green,” joggling boards are made of fine Carolina pine, and to this day an invitation to sit upon one is akin to an invitation of friendship.

Little did those out-of-towners know, as they munched on Lowcountry snacks next to complete strangers at Riverfront Park last month, that they were inadvertently participating in a centuries-old tradition and making new friends in the most Southern of ways. Happy Joggling!

Check out Oyster Creek Trading Company for more handcrafted boards.

7 Things You Didn’t Know about Colonial Lake

Colonial Lake, Charleston, SC

photo credit: Donnie Whitaker

Charlestonians have a fond familiarity with Colonial Lake. Originally called Rutledge Street Pond, the lake is located in the heart of the Harleston Village, which stretches from Broad to Calhoun streets and Lockwood Drive to King Street. From sunbathers and students to runners and dog walkers, Colonial Lake is a special part of many folks’ daily lives — and has been since as far back as the 1700s.

In honor of Colonial Lake’s recent restoration, we thought it fitting to give you a brief history into the life of the beloved wee body of water. Here are 7 things you may not have known about Colonial Lake:

1. The area in which the lake sits was established for public use in 1768 by an Act of the Commons House of Assembly. The lake, evolving from a pond, would not come into existence until later on in 1869, complete with the wide walkways and picturesque promenade enjoyed now for well over a century.

2. Back then, the area west of the pond was an undeveloped area — unlike now where Harleston is a lively neighborhood complete with everything from tennis courts and fine-dining restaurants to antique shops, art galleries, and the College of Charleston.

3. Colonial Lake was once a popular spot for parking one’s boat, so much so that it soon became illegal to park your boat there without a license. By 1910, folks even staged boat races in the pond — the same year that Palmetto trees were planted in the park’s promenade.

4. In the early to mid ’70s, passersby could enjoy the lake’s fountains. They were removed in ’77 because of complaints of its saltwater overspray.

5. You can fish in Colonial Lake. A tidal lake after all, Colonial Lake has been known to deliver mullet, mud minnows, shrimp, and flounder when the tide is high. Its pipe runs from the lake, under the streets, and into the Charleston Harbor, so if it’s big enough to swim through the pipe, it just may wind up in Colonial Lake. For example, six years ago, a College of Charleston retrieved a 45-inch red drum from its waters.

6. In 2008, a deer was pulled out of Colonial Lake, believe it or not. Various witnesses reported seeing the deer wandering around the historic downtown area before running down Rutledge Avenue and into the water. It took rescuers several hours to sedate the animal and remove it from the lake.

7. You’d be forgiven if you hadn’t heard that the Park is officially open again. Fenced away in January of 2015, Colonial Park has experienced extensive renovations, much to its regulars’ dismay. However, a year-and-a-half and four-million dollars later, the Park got its official unveiling earlier this summer.

Colonial Lake, Charleston, SC

photo credit: Donnie Whitaker

At long last, Harleston Village’s centerpiece, the place where locals often go to contemplate, has returned to its old, if more beautifully landscaped, self.

Since Charleston weather is picnic-permitting more often than not, Colonial Lake gets plenty of enjoyment year-round — be it for local joggers during the dog days of summer or for visitors and residents alike in the Christmas season, when a Christmas tree is lit in the center of the water.

What’s your favorite time of year to enjoy Colonial Lake?

Colonial Lake, Charleston,SC

Locals Guide to Wagener Terrace

Hampton Park, Wagener Terrace

Hampton Park via Instagram user @tracimagnus

Wagener Terrace is where downtown locals love to live. Away from the bustle of the more touristy parts of downtown, Wagener Terrace is an oasis filled with wide sidewalks, Spanish moss-covered live oaks, quiet living, and friendly neighbors, the latter of which range from families to young professionals. Still on the Charleston peninsula, Wagener Terrace is biking distance to the city’s theaters, antiques, shopping, and nightlife.

Hampton Park, Wagener Terrace

photo taken by @leahsuarez

But there’s still plenty of fun to be had within walking distance inside this serene pocket of the peninsula. These are just a few of our favorite things to do in and around Wagener Terrace:

Play:  The biggest highlight to living in this area has to be the accessibility to Hampton Park, which is below Wagener Terrace in the Hampton Park Terrace neighborhood. The largest park on the peninsula, Hampton Park is 60 acres of green space where locals jog, bike, walk dogs, picnic, and play. Weddings are held in the park’s picturesque gazebo, books are read by the fountain, and there are plans for an abandoned concessions stand at the park to be restored by the neighboring Park Cafe.

Wagener Terrace

photo taken by: @theparkcafechs

Eat:  Speaking of Park Cafe, the bright, airy, and simplistic Rutledge Avenue restaurant is a neighborhood favorite for quality farm-to-table food, wine, and coffee. Just up the street, you’ll find Rutledge Cab Co., another popular local eatery and bar that’s half-owned by actor and Charleston local Bill Murray and features live local music each week. Very close to Wagener Terrace and Hampton Park Terrace is a trendy new spot called NoMo, where you’ll find tons of live music and great wings at Home Team BBQ, a killer brisket at Lewis’ Barbecue, a bar menu and brunch you won’t forget at Edmund’s Oast, and duck-fat fries, taxidermy, and good times at the Tattooed Moose.

Wagener Terrace

photo taken by @tattooedmoose

Drink:  Also close to Hampton Park is Moe’s Crosstown Tavern, a buzzing local dive bar with great grub and a casual, unpretentious atmosphere. For a local craft beer, head straight to Wagener Terrace’s own Cooper River Brewing Co. on Mechanic Street, where you can get anything from a glass of Nitro Stout to a growler of IPA. If you’re in the mood for the lighter stuff, check out Huriyali Gardens, a vibrant wee juice haven on Huger Street with nutrient-rich, organic foods and juices and an adjacent garden that will make you feel like you’ve stumbled upon a magical hidden gem.

Wagener Terrace

photo taken by @cherry_bryd

Dance:  If you’re in the mood for a boogie, head down to the nearby Faculty Lounge on Huger Street. Not only can you find a reason to dance on weekend nights, the Faculty Lounge also features a quality cocktail menu and a chic, local vibe every single evening.

Wagener Terrace

photo taken by @russelldpowell

Shop:  Locals can bike to Food Lion on King Street, the only large-scale grocery store near the neighborhood. As far as any other types of shopping — be it organic foods or clothes or antiques — there are plenty of great spots a short drive away in either the Historic District or over the Ravenel Bridge in Mt. Pleasant.

If this sounds like your kind of neighborhood, stop by the Real Estate Studio and see what adorable bungalows are for sale!

The Charleston Coast’s Best Spots for Sunset Views

No matter the time of year or where you are, you can’t go wrong with a Lowcountry sunset. And there are plenty of key spots, from the resort town of Kiawah all the way up the coast to secluded Dewees Island, to maximize your evening enjoyment. We’re just going to mention a few here, but you can count on us to post some additional spots throughout the year. Here are some of our favorite places for sunset views on the Charleston Coast.

Kiawah Island

Sunset from the Ryder Cup Bar by Instagram user @kiawahislandgolfresort

One of the best and (most delicious) places to enjoy a Kiawah Island sunset is at the Ryder Cup Bar at the Ocean Course. You can grab a drink, sit on the porch, and watch the majesty unfold. In the summers, they host the appropriately named Sunset Raw Bar on the veranda, where you can enjoy fresh seafood with an ocean view.  As the sun sets, you’ll hear live jazz blend with the sounds of the sea.

Seabrook Island

Seabrook Sunset by Instagram user @mingo_sc

Seabrook Sunset via Instagram user @mingo_sc

With three miles of pristine beaches on Seabrook Island, you have plenty of perfect places to catch a beautiful sunset. One of our favorite spots is Pelican Beach, which, fittingly enough, is also nicknamed Sunset Beach. Pelican Beach is where the Edisto River meets the Atlantic Ocean, and its gentle current offers little to no waves and still waters. If you’re partial to a sunrise, head to Seabrook’s North Beach, the widest beach in South Carolina, where the early morning views are spectacular.

Folly Beach

Dusk at Crosby's Seafood by Instagram user (and dunes agent) @donniewhitaker

Dusk at Crosby’s Seafood via Instagram user @donniewhitaker

If you’ve ever been to Folly Beach around sunset, you know there are more than a few places with views that can only be described as life-changing. The vistas from Bowen’s Island Restaurant, which is 2.6 miles from Folly Beach, will make you want to settle down forever in this pocket of the Lowcountry. Similarly, the views from Crosby’s Fish and Shrimp, which you’ll see on the right just before crossing over the bridge to Folly, redefine ‘the good life.’ With the surrounding marsh, shrimp boats, and dolphins, your worries are bound to melt away during a summertime sunset.

Historic Charleston

End of the day at Brittlebank Park by Instagram user @lovelylily8

End of the day at Brittlebank Park via Instagram user @lovelylily8

The sun sets on the Ashley River side of the peninsula, so for fantastic views, take a picnic to Brittlebank Park, which is located on Lockwood Drive near the Riverdogs stadium and is right on the river. Or you could head across the Ashley River bridge to the round Holiday Inn on Savannah Highway and take the elevator to the top. There you’ll find a cocktail bar with glass walls that allow for breathtaking views of Charleston sunsets. Another tip: Should you be close-by during a thunderstorm, there is no better place to watch a lightning show than from this viewpoint.

Mount Pleasant

Ravenel Bridge Sunset by Instagram user @adamaref

Ravenel Bridge Sunset via Instagram user @adamaref

There are so many wonderful spots to watch the sun go down in Mount Pleasant. Shem Creek, Patriot’s Point, Alhambra Hall, the Pitt Street Bridge, and the list goes on.  But we couldn’t feature the sun’s descent over Charleston without the obligatory Ravenel Bridge shot.  Seeing the sun set from any vantage point East of the Cooper is special, but when you can see it go down from atop our beautiful Cooper River bridge, it’s going to be a good night.

Sullivans Island

Sunset with Ravenel Bridge by Instagram user @hankimusmaximus

For a memorable Sullivans Island sunset, make your way toward the lighthouse (park at Station 19). At low tide, you’ll find one of the widest, smoothest, most relaxing beaches in South Carolina. As the sun sets, you can spot the Ravenel Bridge in the distance. Between the expansive shore and the sea, you’ll often find calming, shallow pools perfect for an evening walk and wade.

Isle of Palms

The Boathouse at Breach Inlet by Instagram user @lisa_stegman2

The Boathouse at Breach Inlet via Instagram user @lisa_stegman2

Not only is Isle of Palms’ Boathouse at Breach Inlet Restaurant well-known for great food and delicious drinks, but it’s also the place to be for a sunset on the island. Directly across from the launch site of America’s first submarine, the HL Hunley, the Boathouse at Breach Inlet provides a perfect spot for sipping a cocktail and enjoying a fabulous evening view with friends.

Dewees Island

Dewees Sunset by Instagram user (and dunes agent) @judyondewees

Dewees Sunset by Instagram user (and dunes agent) @judyondewees

If you ever make the trek to Dewees Island, and we suggest you do, you’ll want to make sure you stay late enough to catch the sunset.  Or better yet, check out Dewees Rentals for an extended visit to this wild, rugged wonderland.  Dewees is a nature-lover’s paradise with no restaurants or stores, no cars or stoplights.  The sunset from the Ferry dock is amazing, but The Lone Cedar Dock also offers a perfect vantage point to enjoy the last rays of daylight.

We’ll keep adding to this list, but in the meantime… where will you catch your next Lowcountry sunset?

Accessory Dwellings are becoming popular in Charleston

Granny-flat, mother-in-law-suite, tiny house, laneway house, carriage house- they go by many names.  But whatever you want to call them, “Accessory Dwellings” are becoming more and more common in the Charleston area. Accessory Dwellings are typically small habitable structures on the same property as (or attached to) single family homes. There are many types but the most popular is an adorable tiny house that sits in your backyard. Other types include a small apartment over your garage or even a basement apartment, although basements are not typical to our area. No matter the physical form of your Accessory Dwelling, the structure is legally the same property as the main home. This means it cannot be bought or sold separately, like a condominium or a dwelling on wheels could be.

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Jamme Construction permitted the first ADU in Mount Pleasant, SC.                Photo courtesy of Jamme Construction

In some cases, homeowners want an Accessory Dwelling for the obvious reason – extra income. You could rent out the space to a young professional, a college student, or even your own adult children that just won’t leave home!  Accessory Dwellings could also allow parents to live smaller after their children leave the nest or let an elderly couple live without navigating stairs or maneuvering around a large floor plan.

An above garage Accessory Dwelling Photo courtesy of houzz.com

An above garage Accessory Dwelling in Mount Pleasant
Photo courtesy of houzz.com

If you plan on building one that is one story and less than 120 square feet, then you do not need a permit in Charleston County. A zoning permit is required for a structure larger than 120 square feet, and if you are in a residential district, all Accessory Dwellings (besides garages and carports) must be in the rear of the property behind the main home or office. The space of your parcel must also be at least twice the size of the Accessory Dwelling. The Post & Courier recently wrote an article on the rules and regulations of Accessory Dwellings. Make sure you check with your local authorities about specific zoning laws in your neighborhood. For all the details and requirements on Accessory Dwelling Units in Charleston, click here.

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A 400 Sq. Ft Houseboat that sits at Charleston Harbor Marina in the Mount Pleasant. Photo courtesy of Tiny House Hunters via The Post & Courier

Jamme Construction, of Mount Pleasant has erected several Accessory Dwellings in Mount Pleasant. Paul Jamme has been specializing in custom home building in the Lowcountry since 1994 and wants to make sure that the public knows that the construction of an Accessory Dwelling is hard work and a serious construction job. Just because they are small doesn’t mean they are easy! Think about it for a moment. Accessory Dwellings are so small yet so functional. That is mainly because of innovative solutions to things like storage and floor space, which is why you will often see dining tables that fold down from the wall, Murphy beds, and cabinets or drawers under seating. For more information on building an Accessory Dwelling in Charleston, contact Paul Jamme.

Folly Beach Renourishment & Park Opening

Folly Beach owners and vacationers can breathe a sigh of relief knowing their beach won’t be eroding away any longer into the Atlantic.  In 2011 Hurricane Irene took a serious bite out of the beach and the city has been fighting to get the money ever since. 

The Army Corp of Engineers has provided $20 million to the city for the renourishment project.  As part of a lawsuit settlement, the federal government is obligated to pay for renourisment every 8 years, or as needed, due to erosion caused by the Charleston jetties.    

The renourishment will begin in the Fall after the turtle nesting season and will be completed by the Summer of 2014.  Dredging will occur 3 miles off shore and be spread along the same footprint as 2005.  It is quite an interested scene to watch the dredging happen and what a difference it makes.  You can see in the picture below what a difference dredging did for the Wild Dunes beach.  I look forward to the result. 

Wild Dunes Beach Renourishment before and after

Also in exciting news, the Folly Beach Park, after being closed since September 2011, will be reopening on July 3rd, just in time for the July 4th festivities.  The commission members decided to go ahead and fund the $3 million renourishment project to get the park open.  They couldn’t wait any longer.   This is good news for Folly Beach and good news for everyone that enjoys that beautiful part of the island.

By Susan St. Hilaire

       

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