MEGGETT — Jennifer Gilliland, an art history professor at the College of Charleston, moved to Yonge's Island in southern Charleston County and knows its history isn't as prominent as Charleston's.
But that doesn't mean there's nothing here.
“The longer I live out here, the more fascinating it becomes,” says Gilliland, who recently turned her interest on the area's past.
“I was just surprised that this area had its own unique history separate from Charleston.”
Her book, “Images of America, St. Paul's Parish,” is a visual compilation of what's changed and what hasn't in a rural swath covering this town and five other small communities: Yonge's Island, Rantowles, Adams Run, Ravenel and Hollywood. It's a story rooted in agriculture and railroads, not unlike many other small southern towns.
Like other books in the “Images of America” series, it wouldn't have been possible if locals weren't willing to dig around their house to share old photos.
“I was in people's attics,” she says of her research. “Ninety-five percent of all the images in the book came from people here in the community. People would call me randomly and say, ‘I found something. Do you want to come look at it?'”
Gilliland and Ron Rash, a real estate agent who grew up in the area (and is pictured in the book at least once) recently toured the area to share what they found.
They note Meggett's old post office, now the town hall, survives, though many of the surrounding buildings are gone — buildings built during its heyday as the “Cabbage Capital of the World.”
The large wooden structure that once housed the old oyster factory on Yonge's Island also is long gone, replaced by a few large recently built homes.
The Yonge's Island Post Office survives, and while it needs attention, it shows the image in the book was inadvertently flipped left to right. Nearby, the St. Mary's Catholic Church still stands looking nearly identical to the old photo in the book.
Perhaps the saddest loss is the old St. Paul's High School, which was torn down around 1972 and replaced with the less impressive (and now va shows the image in the book was inadvertently flipped left to right. Nearby, the St. Mary's Catholic Church still stands looking nearly identical to the old photo in the book.
Perhaps the saddest loss is the old St. Paul's High School, which was torn down around 1972 and replaced with the less impressive (and now vacant) R.D. Schroder school.
Of course, like other books in this series, Gilliland's also shares dozens of pictures of the people who populated St. Paul's during the early 20th century, as well as images of other memorabilia such as high school football game programs, assorted letterheads and World War II ration coupons.
Another old mid-20th-century photograph of downtown Hollywood (on page 45) shows a few wooden buildings now gone, but at least one that survives to this day.
The two-story structure in the distance has changed so little that it's clear today where the image was made two generations ago.
Like many other photos in the book, it's a black-and-white reminder that areas — even those where history is a less intense presence than it is in downtown Charleston — can forge a more interesting future by remembering their past.
Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.
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