Master Preservationist Program – Day Twelve. What’s in a Name?

Apparently, everything when it comes to the value of an historic neighborhood.

For Day 12 of our Master Preservationist Program, we met at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity, located at 28 Race St and a fine example of Byzantine architecture.  Race St is on the edge of a neighborhood currently referred to as the Westside.  The name Westside actually includes most everything west of King St, north of the Crosstown and south of Congress St (approximately).

Within that large area, lies a neighborhood whose character and history are so specific that it has actually been thrown out there that it should have a name of its own!  Bounded by King, Fishburne, Rutledge and Sumter, you’ll find homes built in a similar style from the 1900-1930s.  This area has recently seen an uptick in favorability, given the beautiful architecture, tree-lined streets, and proximity to the ever-growing King St commercial district.

So why would you rename a neighborhood?  Because a specific name gives an area an identity, and leads to the value of and interest in an historic area increasing.  For example, the now popular neighborhood Mazyck-Wraggborough used to be included in what is currently called the Eastside.  Realtors and owners are now using the term “The Garden District” to refer to a few streets there.

So here are a few fun facts about other Charleston neighborhoods and streets above the Crosstown.

  • Rutledge Avenue used to have a street car line so neighborhoods developed around it. (I wish this was still intact!)
  • Most neighborhoods were named after the owners of the various tracts of land.
  • Hampton Park Terrace is an existing historic neighborhood, and Hampton Park used to be the site of a racetrack, prior to the 1901 Exposition.  As you drive or jog around the park today, imagine the horses galloping around that very same circle!
  • Race St is named after that racetrack.
  • The North Central neighborhood used to have specific names including, Central Park and Rose Garden.
  • The Alberta and Hester Streets area was called Riverside Park.
  • The area south of Mount Pleasant St was called Mount Pleasant Farms.
  • The area north of Mount Pleasant St to the marsh was called Alta Vista (I am assuming because of the ‘high view’.).  Now it is generally considered part of Wagener Terrace.

The area of the Westside I am referring to was a tract of land called Wilson’s Farm – owned by the Wilsons.  Mrs. Sophie Wilson died in 1873, the land then went to another person’s life estate, that person died in 1890, another person took over and had the land divided into lots and streets (laid out by free convict labor), then another person laid claim to half of it, so the owner had to buy them out by mortgaging the parcel, and then after all that, she had to default.  Phew!!  Such is the life of land in Charleston, eh??  By the way, the Wilson Family cemetery still exists.  Who can tell me where it is?? (Hint: it’s on Sumter St)

The homes in this area were originally built as duplexes and advertised as having plumbing and beautiful iron gates.  Many of them today have been converted to single family homes and renovated ones will sell for $250,000-$450,000.  This house at 11 Perry St is a great example of your typical home in this area.

11 Perry St


So check out this great neighborhood.  Let me know what you think it should be called.  All it takes is the neighbors coming together to present a name to the City of Charleston.

Next up….since this was the last day of class for the Pilot Program, that means that our projects have started!!  I’ll be writing about it in an upcoming post and am excited to show you what we are doing!!

Read Master Preservationist Program Day Ten: Rethinking Sustainability and the Meaning of Green.

P.S. You’ll note that I skipped Day 11: Preservation Economics, because I had to work on my own economics!!

3 Responses to “Master Preservationist Program – Day Twelve. What’s in a Name?

  • Eric Snyder
    10 years ago

    What an interesting article on Wilson’s Farm. I especially enjoyed the house — 11 Perry St, you featured. It’s our house! My boyfriend and I moved here from NYC three years ago and fell in love with the house and the surrounding neighborhood. We are slowly updating / renovating the house. We recently painted the exterior concrete a brick red to match the surrounding houses to make it more cohesive. And the front garden has everything from Black Krim tomatoes to lavender. But don’t rush over to take pictures just yet. We’ll be putting in new gutters and rainbarrels soon. Thanks again for your blog!

    • Oh that is so neat that is your house!! I bet it’s looking wonderful – I’ll definitely ride by to check it out. I moved here from NYC myself almost 9 years ago and found the transition so easy. Life here is sweet!

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