Regatta, tea plantation attractions complement estate-sized lots, waterside homes on semirural Wadmalaw Island
The official northern border of Wadmalaw Island happens to be Church Creek, a spit of water that meanders through lowland oak forests and farm properties.
But most people who've driven to the island would know it from an intersection of Main Road at Maybank Highway.
Motorists who continue on Main or turn left off Maybank wind up on Bohicket Road - a direct route on Johns Island and the connector to popular resorts at Kiawah and Seabrook islands.
Alternatively, people who take a right off Main or stay on Maybank head over Church Creek to Wadmalaw.
With its golf courses, executive airport and upscale shopping markets, neighboring Johns Island attracts the most buzz. The island includes a mix of developments from large tracts of land to new-home builders, some less than 10 miles from downtown Charleston.
Wadmalaw Island, by contrast, remains limited to large pieces of property, rural homesteads and churches. A handful of country stores, along with agricultural footholds, account for much of the commercial development. The small, traditional fishing town of Rockville abuts Bohicket Creek at the terminus of Maybank Highway. Just south is the North Edisto River.
According to Susan Sellers, it makes sense to highlight "this amazing part of Charleston."
Wadmalaw Island includes "the Tea Plantation, Rockville Regatta, Firefly Vodka, beautiful homes and equestrian living," says Sellers, representing Luxury Simplified Group conglomerate of real estate, restoration, development and design.
The island's exclusive nature and broad acreage boosts sales prices, although the number of deals transacted remains low.
The Charleston Trident Association of Realtors reported 22 home sales in 2013 with a median price of $384,500 and an average 190 day stay on the market before sale.
Based on the association of Realtors property search, 30 homes are for sale on Wadmalaw Island. They range in price from $55,999 to $2,750,000, size from 936 to 7,163 square feet, acreage from 0.40 to 12.7 and age from two to 44 years old.
Anchorage Plantation, an expanse of about 50 large homes and lots off Maybank Highway, stands among the few "neighborhoods" on Wadmalaw Island. The community stretches to Bohicket Creek.
Across the highway, Liberia Road winds to Leadenwah Creek at Selkirk Plantation. Paved and dirt lanes lead to small groupings of homes or private estates on such roads at Allendale Plantation, Katy Hill Road, Rackity Hall Road, Rosebank Plantation and Tacky Point Road. Boy Scout Camp Ho Non Wah resides off Bears Bluff Road.
For more information, visit www.charlestonwine.com (Irvin House Vineyards, which operates the Firefly distillery, also makes its own wine); www.townofrockville.com; and www.charlestonteaplantation.com.
Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
WADMALAW ISLAND at a Glance
Wadmalaw Island is located generally to the southwest of Johns Island and more than halfway encircled by it. To the north it is bordered by Church Creek; to the northeast and east by Bohicket Creek; to the south by the North Edisto River and to the west by the Wadmalaw River. A bridge over Church Creek marks the island's sole connection to the mainland. The 10 mile long by 6 mile wide island encompasses 41.9 square miles of property.
WADMALAW ISLAND at a Glance
Captain Robert Sandford and the crew of the Berkeley Bay landed on Wadmalaw Island in mid-June 1666 after an excursion up Bohicket Creek. Some historians believe that Sandford landed where Rockville now sits. On June 23, the captain and crew carried out the ritual of turf and twig, claiming the land for England and the Lords Proprietors. That's according to writer Terrance Zepke's book Coastal South Carolina: Welcome to the Low Country.
In 1670, 148 colonists arrived and settled on the west bank of the Ashley (Kiawah) River. They survived the first four years of poor crop production through the generosity of natives who shared beans and corn. They later moved to what is now Charleston.
The proximity to water made the island a natural for yachting and boating. In 1890, planters organized the first sailing regatta at Rockville, less than a mile from what's now the Charleston Tea Plantation. The Rockville Regatta is set to mark its 124th year this August from Sea Island Yacht Club.
More recently, the Lipton Tea Co. operated an experimental tea farm on Wadmalaw Island from 1960 until 1987, when it was sold to Mack Fleming and Bill Hall. The pair converted the experimental farm into a working tea plantation. The Charleston Tea Plantation used a converted cotton picker and tobacco harvester to mechanically harvest the tea, according to Paul N. Franklin and Nancy Joyce Mikula, authors of Backroads of South Carolina: a Guide to South Carolina's Most Scenic Backroad Adventures. The tea plantation sold tea mail-order known as American Classic Tea and also produced Sam's Choice Instant Tea, sold through Sam's Clubs. American Classic Tea has been the official tea of the White House since 1987. In 2003, Bigelow Tea Co. purchased the plantation and renovated it. The plantation reopened in January 2006. Tours are offered for what's considered the last remaining working tea farm in America. Wadmalaw now produces Firefly, a sweet tea flavored vodka that's popular in the Southeast. Meanwhile, Boy Scouts of America property Camp Ho Non Wah graces Wadmalaw Island.