Where Old Meets New: Mount Pleasant’s town roots sport antebellum homes, modern houses, retail row

This inviting two-story 19th century home is typical of the early residences in Mount Pleasant’s Old Village, which dates to 1803 (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).

By JIM PARKER The Post and Courier

Marie Crosby grew up in a small town in Ohio, so she felt at home moving into the Old Village of Mount Pleasant.

She and her husband Rick Crosby — who has lived in the Charleston area for years — reside at 200 Bank Street, formerly the lighthouse and keeper’s quarters overlooking Charleston Harbor. They renovated the property in 2008.

“We can walk up to the bakery, the Old Village Post House (restaurant),” and walk home, she says.

While there’s no official neighborhood markers, the Old Village is generally referred to as the area south of Coleman Boulevard to the harbor where Mount Pleasant was mapped out in 1803. Smaller communities with more modest-sized homes grew up around it, and areas along Center and McCants streets with historic lane names such as Pocahontas are generally considered part of Old Mount Pleasant.

Until the past 60 years, those “old” areas comprised just about the whole town. It wasn’t until 1929 that residents had a choice of a boat or a ferry for relatively easy access to reach downtown. That’s when the John P. Grace Memorial Bridge opened, connecting Mount Pleasant to the Charleston peninsula by roadway.

But it wasn’t really until the three-lane Pearman bridge was built next to the Grace in 1965 did the region open up. The Interstate 526 overpasses 15-20 years ago and new eight-lane Ravenel Bridge in 2005 completed the job.

The sleepy town of less than 5,000 people grew into a sprawling bedroom community that’s now the fourth largest municipality in South Carolina with as many as 70,000 people.

All the while, the heart of the town stayed much the same. Except for a main square, the two square mile section of Old Mount Pleasant resembles a small town. Maybe 1,000 houses, many with large, shaded lots are along the criss-crossing avenues between Shem Creek and the Intracoastal Waterway.

New homes have been constructed in recent years everywhere from vacant space in the historic district of the town to outer reaches overlooking the ICW.

Residences are priced from the $200,000s for smaller homes to the millions. At least two houses in the Old Village were on the market for more than $7 million at various times.

According to the town of Mount Pleasant website, the original Mount Pleasant village was laid out in 1803 by businessman James Hibben and took its name from one of the area’s 18th century plantations. His ancestral home, known as the Hibben House, stands in the Old Village.

The town incorporated with the combination of five Shem Creek hamlets dating from 1766 to 1853. They were Greenwich Village, Hibben Ferry, Mount Pleasant Plantation, Hilliardsville and Lucasville.

Pierates Cruze, a small section of upscale homes in the Old Village, sprung from seven gardens by that name that were designed behind a concrete seawall built by a Massachusetts couple in 1929 to protect their land from fierce storms. The gardens, popular in the 1940s, closed in 1959 and the property divided into 13 lots.

Old Mount Pleasant remains self-contained in a way. There’s a school, Mount Pleasant Academy elementary; a play park across from Alhambra Hall town meeting center off McCants Avenue; a tiny central business district on Pitt Street; tennis courts off Royall Avenue; and ball fields on Center Street. The site of the former Pitt Street Bridge that linked Mount Pleasant to Sullivan’s Island has been turned into a park.

Its residents are neighborly. “We have the Old Village supper club with 100 or so members,” Marie Crosby says. “You travel from house to house.”

The geography of Old Mount Pleasant leaves it insulated from traffic elsewhere in the community.

“My husband and I are both very fortunate we work close to home,” she says.

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

OLD VILLAGE AT A GLANCE: Location: Mount Pleasant

Number of homes: 1,000 including surrounding Old Mount Pleasant.

Square footage: 1,000-8,000. Look and feel: Towering living oaks, crape myrtle, azaleas and other colorful foliage mark many streets. Antebellum homes front Charleston Harbor, and Alhambra Hall gives the public views of the water. Everything from churches to a former sweet shop and basketball courts highlight main drag Royall Avenue. Toward Coleman Boulevard and Center Street, Old Mount Pleasant presents a shaded mix of new houses and older bungalows, baseball fields and parks.

Homes on market: 32 (Old Village)

List prices: $290,000-$2,995,000

Schools: Mount Pleasant Academy, Moultrie Middle, Wando High.

Fun facts: The Old Village has an historic marker memorializing the War of 1812, one of the only designations in South Carolina; the town police station was formerly located in the Old Village but was flooded out by Hurricane Hugo.