By JIM PARKER

The Post and Courier

James Island’s homes and more than 20,000 people today are spread out from the Folly River to Charleston Harbor, the county park to Fort Johnson.

But 75 years ago there was just one enclave — Riverland Terrace.

The village off Maybank Highway was launched around 1940 as an early suburban outpost on the sizable “island” west of the Ashley River and southwest of Charleston.

Riverland Terrace grew over the decades to where it now has several hundred houses flanked by Wappoo Creek, the Stono River and Charleston Municipal Golf Course.

Residents use Plymouth public boat landing, at the end of Plymouth Avenue at Elliott Cut, as well as a neighborhood playground. Events such as a farmer’s market are held in the village, which has streets bearing Lowcountry names and places such as Frampton, Coker, Capers, Medway and Edisto.

The Riverland Terrace name has branched out, too, namely to a shopping plaza just east.of the neighborhood.

But the community hasn’t lost its “roots.” That’s literally, since it has one of the more dramatic expanses of oaks, firmly planted in the lowlands soil, of any metro Charleston neighborhood.

At the same time, residents uphold its historical ties, not only as an early suburban locale but an even older antebellum heritage.

“(Riverland Terrace) actively works to preserve the historical integrity of the community, thus contributing to the hometown feel,” according to its neighborhood association website.

These days, the neighborhood boasts a host of perks that can lure home shoppers.

Many of the houses, brick or stucco with a few wood frame sprinkled in, are moderate in size from less than 1,000 to 2,500 square feet and priced from the upper $100,000s to the mid $300,000s. A lot were constructed 40 to 50 years ago, although there are some homes built in the past couple of decades. Property values are considered affordable for homes and land close to or bordering a creek, river or marsh. Multimillion dollar homes rim the waterview properties, giving the neighborhood an eclectic feel.

At the same time, Riverland Terrace edges up to the city golf course and is a few blocks from half-dozen restaurants and various shops along Maybank Highway.

The community can tout its proximate location to downtown Charleston, about 10 minutes west and south by car and no slower by boat along Wappoo Creek and the Intracoastal Waterway.

While close to shopping plazas and eateries, Riverland Terrace is somewhat sheltered, as the Maybank main drag traffic dips further south just past the community. The village has a few quirky highlights, from a Dutch-style windmill erected in 1936 to at least two geodesic dome houses on the northeast edge of the community.

Self-promoted as James Island’s oldest neighborhood, Riverland Terrace is noted for its avenue of at least 70 oaks on Wappoo Drive. Historians trace the origins to the 19th century, when the live oaks lead to Wappoo Hall Plantation on the Stono River.

That’s not the only 19th century place in Riverland Terrace. Near the Stono River are the remains of Fort Pemberton, a Civil War earthenworks fortification built in 1862. Plans were approved five years ago for a handful of homes to be built near the fort, with access off Yates Avenue.

To reach Riverland Terrace from downtown Charleston, head west on the Ashley River bridge. Veer left onto Folly Road and cross the Wappoo Bridge. Turn right on Maybank Highway and proceed about a mile. When Maybank starts to bend left, continue straight on Wappoo Drive. The neighborhood is ahead on either side of Wappoo Drive.

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

RIVERLAND TERRACE AT A GLANCE:

Location: James Island

Number of homes: 800

Square footage: 900-4,800

Look & feel: Few neighborhoods showcase such a swath of draping oaks and other overhanging trees as Riverland Terrace, where it’s hard to go more than a couple of blocks without being in the shade. While there are newer homes in the neighborhood off Maybank Highway, many of the quaint, relatively modest sized houses are from the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s. Young families and older couples co-exist in the quiet, friendly community that backs up to the Stono River and Intracoastal Waterway and borders on Charleston Municipal Golf Course.

Homes on market: 10

List prices: $175,000-$3 million

Schools: Murray Lasaine Elementary, Fort Johnson Middle, James Island Charter High

Fun facts: Riverland Terrace is home to an 11,000 pound Holland-style windmill, built 76 years ago on the Intracoastal Waterway, as well a handful of geodesic dome houses; the neighborhood’s Avenue of Oaks boasts of six dozen or more live oaks dating back at least to the early 20th century.