By JIM PARKER

The Post and Courier

A hickory tree grows in Fudgy and Debra Brabham’s yard in Point Pleasant, one of 20 or so communities that shoot off from Mathis Ferry Road.

According to Fudgy Brabham, the tree is one of the tallest hickories anyone’s seen in these parts of Mount Pleasant. He says established neighborhoods such as Point Pleasant stand out because of the mature foliage, likening the largely clear-cut landscape of many new communities to a “thermal-nuclear bomb” going off.

Brabham has a dual interest in seeing that neighborhoods such as those along Mathis Ferry Road are preserved. Along with living there, he and Debra are Realtors with their companies Trident Real Estate and Harbourtowne Real Estate.

“From the perspective of Mathis Ferry, it has a rural feel,” Brabham says. “You’ve got water features. From what I see, the communities are very tight. They take good care of the properties.”

Even though wooded expanses and adjoining tributaries are commonplace in neighborhoods along Mathis Ferry Road, the communities offer plenty of variety.

There are neighborhoods with million dollar properties such as Wakendaw on the Creek, Olde Park, River Reach and neotraditional I’On. Other communities, such as Wando East and Parish Place, offer homes for sale below $250,000. At least one village, Green Hill, is predominately black; and the historically black Remleys Point-Scanlonville area today is racially mixed.

Some multistory houses top 6,000 square feet, while places such as the cozy Charleston single home style Queens Row is made up of homes with less than 2,000 square feet. Bikers, walkers and joggers populate I’On, while a normal summer sight in Hobcaw Point is seeing families carting kids on their golf carts to the Hobcaw Yacht Club pool.

At least four neighborhoods — Hamlet Square, I’On, Hobcaw and shortly, Remleys can use roundabouts on Mathis Ferry Road to enter and exit their communities. Apartments include the new River Walk at Mathis Ferry and Walt Miller roads, Parish Place and a small complex at the corner of Von Kolnitz Drive.

Mathis Ferry Road is loaded with schools: public James B. Edwards Elementary, the former Wando High School site used as a temporary location for schools undergoing renovations and the private O’Quinn Schools of Porter-Gaud. East Cooper Hospital is off the roundabout closest to Whipple Road.

I’On, started up in the late 1990s, added a wrinkle to the typical Mathis Ferry Road neighborhoods dominated by brick, fiber-cement and wood-frame homes built on spacious lots of half-acre or more primarily from the 1960s through 1990s.

By contrast, I’On boasts a town square of sorts with eateries, offices and shops at its entrance on North Shelmore Boulevard and a secluded, wooded rookery in the midst of the neighborhood. Patterned on downtown Charleston, the community is characterized by elegant homes on narrow lots with fashionable designs reminiscent of 18th, 19th and early 20th century residences.

“Of course, we’ve got the high end stuff, I’On, Molasses Creek, Olde Park,” Brabham says.

A perk for all the Mathis Ferry villages is the location. According to Brabham, it’s “the proximity of the (Ravenel) bridge.” From some neighborhoods, “60 seconds and you are on the bridge.”

Meanwhile, the road acts as an unofficial northern bypass of U.S. Highway 17.

“You have the ability to go right or left or straight ahead to miss Highway 17 traffic,” he says.

To reach the Mathis Ferry Road corridor from downtown Charleston, cross the Ravenel Bridge and stay to the left onto Johnnie Dodds Boulevard (Highway 17). Proceed to the second traffic light and make a left onto Mathis Ferry Road. Most of the neighborhoods are off to the left with a few on the right. The roadway eventually connects back to Highway 17 at Venning Road.

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

MATHIS FERRY ROAD CORRIDOR AT A GLANCE:

Location: Mount Pleasant

Number of homes: 1,000 plus

Square footage: 725-7,813

Look & feel: Water is never far away from the diverse neighborhoods along the Mathis Ferry Road corridor. Hobcaw Creek, lakes and even Charleston Harbor border many of the 20 or more communities along the oak-lined roadway. Most of the enclaves are upscale, with two-story colonials, brick ranches and Lowcountry-style residences predominating. I’On, a well-known new urbanist community launched in 1998, modeled itself after downtown Charleston with antebellum style homes. Everyone from young professionals with children to retirees live in the neighborhoods, which tout parks, swimming pools and boat landings among amenities. Wakendaw includes a private school, Trident Academy; and soccer fields. Mathis Ferry Road in itself is distinctive: it’s a state scenic roadway that arches from and to U.S. Highway 17 North and is just adding its fourth roundabout.

Homes on market: 86

List prices: $159,900-$2,840,000

Schools: James B. Edwards Elementary, Moultrie Middle, Wando High

Fun facts: According to historians, Mathis Ferry Road dates to the early 1700s as one of the first roads in the Lowcountry; James Brown was among the performers at a former bandstand where Remley’s Point boat landing is today.