By JIM PARKER

The Post and Courier

They weren’t really pioneers, but buyers who crossed from downtown to West Ashley’s first suburbs launched a movement that’s lasted 85 years.

Those early neighborhoods such as Windermere and a generation later Moreland, Avondale and South Windermere offered younger couples and families less expensive homes in quiet, semi-wooded settings.

Over time, the families would mature while new professionals would buy homes and raise children. The residents built stakes in communities that now showcase well-preserved 60, 70, 80 year-old homes valued in many cases from the $400,000s to more than $1 million.

“Young parents are moving in, they have one or two children, (they) go shopping (locally),” says Daniel Prenner, a Charleston attorney who with his wife Susie bought a house on Tarleton Drive in South Windermere a decade ago and are raising their son, who just completed the second grade.

By keeping the home sales market active, “It ups the value of the property,” he says.

At the same time, many seniors and older professionals live in the neighborhoods, either growing up in the suburbs or moving there later in life.

Retired couple Joe and Marlene Rotter relocated from Church Street below Tradd to a house on Woodward Road in Moreland eight years ago because of “the view,” he says. The property overlooks the Ashley River.

“We look across at Brittlebank Park, the Joe, fireworks on Friday nights,” Rotter says.

The couple doesn’t just admire the water from a distance: “We have a kayak,” he says, which they take out from time to time.

Their Moreland neighbors, he says, are “very nice (and) friendly.” Property values stumbled during the housing downturn “just like everybody else’s,” Rotter says, but seem to be turning around.

Real estate agents are finding the close-in West Ashley neighborhoods to be popular with home shoppers.

“Welcome to South Windermere, one of Charleston’s most sought after and established neighborhoods, only minutes to downtown Charleston and local beaches,” Raina Rubin, agent with Carolina One Real Estate, touted in her listing on a Chadwick Drive home for sale.

Prenner, president of the neighborhood homeowner’s association, says there are residents who remember the early days when South Windermere was “mostly woods” and in earlier times, a cabbage farm. One long-time neighbor, he says, is “an amazing lady” in her 90s.

At the same time, South Windermere is expected to keep a youthful flavor at least in terms of public education: St. Andrews Elementary is being rebuilt in the neighborhood.

Prenner says South Windermere is a child-friendly neighborhood. “We have kids playing in the yard every day.” He knows personally of at least 20-30 births in the community in the past decade. “Tons of people are pushing strollers.”

The neighborhood also benefits from being so close to South Windermere Shopping Center, whose tenants include Earth Fare organic grocery store and Starbucks.

South Windermere’s neighborhood entrance is on Windermere Boulevard off Folly Road, and workers over time have “beautified the intersection,” Prenner says.

To reach the close-in West Ashley villages from downtown Charleston, cross the Ashley River Bridge. To get to Moreland, steer right onto St. Andrews Boulevard and turn right on any of the streets from Woodward Road to St. Denis Drive. Godfrey Park Place crosses the highway as does St. Denis. Continue north to Avondale, which can be reached turning left or right on Riverdale Drive or Oakdale Avenue. Meanwhile, find Windermere by turning left on Wesley Drive off Savannah Highway and left on Fenwick Drive or right on Beverly Road. South Windermere is accessible via Windermere Boulevard off Folly Road.

Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or jparker@postandcourier.com.