Down By The River: Posh tree-lined neighborhoods hold forth between central Moncks Corner and tributary
By JIM PARKER
The Post and Courier
Two words sum up the historic past and vibrant present of the fertile, wooded area on the east side of what’s now Moncks Corner.
They’re Santee and Cooper, usually in that order.
In the late 17th century, Peter Colleton’s Fairlawn Barony and other massive plantations sprung up along the west branch of the Cooper River. To the north was the mighty Santee River, and a canal would eventually connect the two bodies of water.
By the early 20th century, impoverished regions of South Carolina were in dire need of electricity. The South Carolina Public Service Authority was established in the 1930s to provide power to serve thousands of rural homes such as in Berkeley County. Its headquarters was in Moncks Corner, and the venture became better known as Santee Cooper.
The region in modern times is not only electrified but hooked to cable, Internet and most any other high-tech devices. Neighborhoods such as Fairlawn Barony and Stony Landing were built in the past 20 to 30 years, co-opting the names of the long-ago plantations.
And many residents still have some direct connection, such as employment, with Santee Cooper. The power entity’s has its multistoried headquarters just up U.S. Highway 52 Bypass.
In the upscale neighborhoods nearby, brick and fiber-cement sided homes with front porches or columns, well-groomed yards, tall oaks and soldier-straight palmettos edge winding streets. It’s not uncommon to see boats, trailers and heavy duty pickup trucks parked along driveways or in two car garages.
A causeway links to Cedar Island, where sprawling two- and three level homes possess docks that hook to the Cooper River branch. Parents and kids fish from the pier, take out john boats and whip jet-powered watercraft through the otherwise silent tributary.
“Well, we are a very friendly neighborhood,” says Eunice Reardon, who moved to Fairlawn Barony in 1998. The native of Greeleyville in Williamsburg County relocated to Moncks Corner in 1960 when her husband got a job at Santee Cooper. The couple are retired, he from the power company and she from the Berkeley County school system.
After living elsewhere in the Moncks Corner area, they settled on Edward Street 14 years ago.
What drew the Reardons there? “I guess the people,” she says. Fairlawn Barony is a “very caring neighborhood. We kind of watch out for neighbors.” The community has a Good Neighbor organization, where homeowners try to keep everything neat and clean, she says. “They step up as a team.”
The communities along Highway 52 Bypass, which combined have 300 houses or so, are close to shopping such as a new Bi-Lo center and are less than a mile from downtown Moncks Corner. Old Santee Canal State Park is close by as is the Berkeley Museum.
Home to the courthouse as Berkeley County seat, 7,000-population Moncks Corner until recent times was semi-isolated, a stopover on the way to nearby Lake Moultrie. But new-home communities have moved out from Goose Creek to where the governmental center of the county is becoming an outskirts bedroom community to Charleston more than 30 miles away.
About 15 houses are on the market, priced from the mid $100,000s to the $500,000s, in the upscale communities close to Santee Cooper. Reardon, for one, says she likes her neighborhood, but the residents aren’t the only attraction.
“Of course, I love the water and trees,” she says.
To get to Fairlawn Barony and adjacent villages from downtown Charleston, travel west on Interstate 26 to exit 209A, which is U.S. Highway 52. Follow Highway 52 (Rivers Avenue) into Goose Creek. Travel another 10 miles to Moncks Corner. At the traffic light, continue straight on Rembert Dennis Boulevard (U.S. Highway 52 Bypass). An entrance to Fairlawn Barony is Edward Street, the first right. The upscale Sterling Oaks and Stony Landing neighborhoods are further north on the bypass.
SANTEE CANAL AREA HOMES AT A GLANCE:
Location: Moncks Corner
Number of homes: 300 or more (including surrounding neighborhoods)
Square footage: 1,600-4,000 square feet
Look and feel: Lowcountry style cottages and one- and two-story brick homes, some with columns, predominate. Front porches are almost a given. Neighborhoods are dotted with grand oaks, magnolia, palmettos and water oaks. Lush lawns are common. Houses date from the mid-1970s to the 2000s. Cedar Island, on the east end of Fairlawn Barony, skirts the west branch of the Cooper River and showcases posh homes with docks to the tributary. Nearby Sterling Oaks is a quiet community built along one main road and cul de sacs; Stony Landing has large lots and a mix of elegant brick and fiber-cement sided houses.
Homes on market: 15
List prices: $149,500-$534,900
Schools: Berkeley Elementary, Berkeley Middle, Berkeley High
Fun facts: There’s various theories on Moncks Corner’s name origins, including that it’s a misspelling tied to nearby Mepkin Abbey but many historians peg it to Thomas Monck, a Lords Proprietor landowner in the region in the late 1600s; both Highway 52 Bypass and the main street through Fairlawn Barony are named for long-time Berkeley County politician Rembert C. Dennis.
Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or firstname.lastname@example.org.