Neighborhood Spotlight: Riverland Terrace

There are hundreds of neighborhoods in the Lowcountry area, but how do you know which is the right fit for you?  A truly unique characteristic of most neighborhoods in the Lowcountry, is their historical significance. This week, we focus on one neighborhood, a James Island community called Riverland Terrace.

Riverland Terrace started to develop in the 1920s and is James Island’s oldest neighborhood. The Terrace is located just a few minutes west of downtown Charleston along Wappoo Creek and the inland waterway. Neighborhood highlights include a public boat landing, Charleston Municipal Golf Course, a shaded playground, three city parks (Medway Park, Parkway Park, and Plymouth Park), and two ball fields.

Leading into the neighborhood is the historic Avenue of Oaks (recognized as one of SC’s most scenic roads), consisting of over 70 live oak trees believed to be over 100 years old. They once led to Wappoo Hall Plantation, owned by Lt. Col. George Lucas of the English Army and managed by his daughter Eliza Lucas Pinckney. She developed the indigo industry of the colony as a successful cash crop before the American Revolution. The plantation fronted the Stono River. Fort Pemberton, one of the largest confederate forts constructed in the defense of Charleston during the Civil War, was built in 1862 and remains today on the Stono River side of the community.

The Terrace consists of approximately 800 homes. Sizes and prices vary greatly. Smaller homes of 900 square feet in the front of the community begin around $300,000 and vary all the way to 2 million plus for deep water lot homes in the back of the community. There is an active volunteer neighborhood association that meets three to four times each year. The neighborhood's 'Hometown Feel' is attributed to the association actively working to preserve the historical integrity of the community.

Around the corner from the residential community, you will find The Terrace Theater, several restaurants (which include: The Lot, How Art Thou Cafe, Crust, Zia Taqueria, Maybank Public House), multiple antique shops including the Terrace Oaks Antique Mall and A World Apart, two florists, and two spas (check out Charleston Medical Spa if you are ever in the neighborhood). In addition, if you enjoy exercising, you can join in one of the boot-camps that meet at Medway Park, or check out Studio Barre where men and margaritas are always free on Fridays. The community also hosts a Sunday Farmers Market and Sunday community yoga in the cooler months.  The neighborhood is in the process of building a community garden for all neighbors to access, this endeavor is sponsored in partner with the Charleston Parks Conservancy.

The largest event of the year is Halloween Under the Oaks Trick or Treating. The community closes the streets to traffic and several neighbors turn their homes into scary haunted houses. It truly is a great time to be a part of the community.   If you’re ever in the area, feel free to park your car and walk the streets of the neighborhood. A volunteer community garden club keeps the neighborhood beautiful. There are multiple public swings and benches where you can rest and take in the scenery and the shade of the historic oaks not only keeps you cool, but makes you feel like you have entered a truly secret paradise.

*The Riverland Terrace Neighborhood Association (RTNA) is a not-for-profit volunteer neighborhood organization for those who live, work, or play within Riverland Terrace. RTNA is committed to promoting and protecting the beauty, safety, stability, cleanliness, and social and economic viability of the neighborhood by fostering alliances with the local residents, merchants, and government officials. RTNA seeks to represent community interests as a single voice.

**Facts throughout this article were from

Charleston is Where the Heart Is... written by David Wicke

David in the second grade at mokulele Elementary, Hawaii

Son of a Navy Sailor from Minnesota, I am what you might call a Military Brat.  I was born in Charleston at the Naval Hospital that has now since closed.   Due to my father's occupation, we were able to live in exotic locations such as Guam and Hawaii.  However, we always came back to Charleston.  This area was my father's favorite.  As a child, I never really understood.
We lived mostly in the Goose Creek area right next to the woods.  I remember tromping through them with my older brother seeking one adventure after another.  My sister, brother and I attended the local schools, Westview Elementary and Middle as well as Stratford High School.  I think out of the three of us, I loved going to school the most.  You couldn't keep my head out of a textbook.
My father would also take us out to Short Stay on Lake Moultrie with our little Jon boat.  He would spend the day teaching my brother and I how to fish.  Needless to say, I wasn't very good at it and was usually the day's catch.  Luckily enough, we could always stop by our favorite restaurant in Moncks Corner called the Dock Restaurant on the Tailrace Canal. Unfortunately, it closed a few years back but the hush puppies were amazing.
After high school, I had the choice of staying local or going to another state.  Although home is Charleston, I decided to go off to Indiana to a private engineering school.  While I met some amazing people in my time in Indiana, I always looked forward to coming back to Charleston during holidays. 
My palate has considerably changed since college but what I would look forward to most when being back from school was Wild Wing Café at downtown Charleston.  My sister and my parents never had to ask where I wanted to eat.  I could order 30 wings at once along with a side of their delicious buffalo chips. Afterwards, I would visit my sister out on Isle of Palms.  Two blocks from the beach, it was very enticing to visit all the time. Being a Navy brat, I fell in love with the ocean at an early age and Charleston's beaches are wonderful.
After college, I had a few offers of employment in Indiana and some other states but Charleston called me back.  I was able to find work as a government contractor due to the burgeoning technical scene here.  I believe they want to call this area Silicon Harbor. I still lived in Goose Creek but I had more chances to go downtown when I was working on my Master's degree.  While I love a good hot wing, my new favorite restaurant became Basil, a Thai Restaurant on King Street. Their ginger chicken is amazing and a recipe I secretly want to learn.  I also learned to love "big as your head" burritos from Yo Burrito! and spicy New York style pizza from Andolini's which was right next to the computer science building at the College of Charleston.  I also had a wonderful group of friends who would meet up at Kaminsky's on Market Street.  We would each order a separate dessert, take a few bites and then rotate so everyone could enjoy their delicious treats.
As a student of the College of Charleston, I was able to take sailing lessons out of the historical Patriot's Point, home of the U.S.S. Yorktown.  We were able to take out our little J/22 sailboats into Charleston Harbor.  I remember one eventful lesson where the instructor had to chase me down after passing Fort Sumter heading for the harbor mouth.  I felt like I was ready for the ocean.
 After getting my Master's degree, the government decided to bring me on and send me to Germany.  I had an amazing time in Europe, don't get me wrong, but after a little over three years, I really missed the ocean.  This time, I chose to move to James Island.  What a change.  Goose Creek is amazing if you have or want a family and don't mind commuting.  James Island, however, offers a mix of being close to the beach and close to downtown with housing for families or for singles.
It was while I lived in James Island that I fell in love with surfing.  Surprising considering I lived in both Guam and Hawaii and never surfed.  Everyday after work, I would race home to grab my board and head to Folly Beach.  Whether the surf was good or not, it was amazing to get into the water.  If there was the off occasion where I didn't feel like surfing, I could always go to James Island County Park to walk the beautiful trails that run along the intracoastal waterway or play on the climbing wall.  Some days, I would even walk across the Ravenel Bridge to take in a beautiful view of Downtown Charleston.
It was in Charleston that I would meet my beautiful wife.  We both met on the job although, as my wife would tell it, I'm terrible at reading signals.  It took me a while to realize the beautiful young woman that continually bumped into me in the hall was actually interested in me.  Our first date was at a wonderful sushi restaurant on King Street called O-Ku.  We were both pretty nervous but luckily the beautiful music from Seth G., the violinist, helped drown out my stammering.
After a wonderful courtship we decided to tie the knot.  We held our wedding at McCrady's Restaurant in historic Unity Alley.   Catered by Sean Brock's team of chefs, our menu was full of wonderful Lowcountry cuisine.
Well, now I see why my father loves the Lowcountry so much.  I have so many wonderful memories of this place.  

Catching waves during the winter on folly beach

Catching waves during the winter on folly beach

Local vs. Newcomer: Ginny & Sarah share what they love about the Lowcountry!

In Gullah, they use the terms binyah and cumyah to describe those who have always “been here” and those that have “come here.” As I was looking across a group of friends at a happy hour recently, I started to think about how most of us are from places other than Charleston, but how we all have a love for the Lowcountry and all that it has to offer. I decided to interview two friends, one who was born and raised in the Lowcountry, and one who, like myself, relocated here. What I found was that it doesn’t matter if you grew-up here, or found yourself here, the love for the Lowcountry is strong and means something different to everyone.

Ginny Carson (left) and Sarah Coe (right) tell us what they love about the lowcountry.

Ginny Carson (left) and Sarah Coe (right) tell us what they love about the lowcountry.

Check out how Ginny Carson, our native, responded compared to Sarah Coe, who answered the same set of questions from the perspective of a newcomer:

  1. Where were you born?
    Ginny Carson's (GC) response: Roper Hospital – the real one, on Calhoun Street.
    Sarah Coe's (SC) response: Buffalo, NY

  2. How long have you lived in Charleston?
    GC: All but 7.5 of my 39 years.
    SC: Almost five years exactly.

  3. Where else have you lived?
    GC: Clemson SC (GO TIGERS!); Atlanta, GA and a short stint in Conway, Arkansas
    SC: Buffalo, London, Chicago, San Antonio and Houston TX

  4. How does Charleston compare to other places you have lived?
    GC: Nothing finer.
    SC: I’ll put it this way – it’s the longest I’ve stayed in one place since Buffalo, where I was raised. I love it here. It really is a bit of paradise.

  5. What do you like to do in your spare time?
    GC: I love to play outside: paddle board; fish in the creeks; run the local trails, bridges and South of Broad.
    SC: Walk the oak tree-lined streets of my neighborhood, check out one of the countless, world-class restaurants, take in some of the amazing cultural scene – theater, live music, dance, comedy and art – the beaches, of course!

  6. What is your favorite thing about living in Charleston?
    GC: I love the history here – the (mostly) classy presence the city has had since our country’s beginning and my own personal history – I never know when a casual social gathering will resurface a childhood friend!
    SC: There is an ease to southern living I would never have expected to enjoy. Perhaps it’s right for this time of my life. There are many options of things to do and see and I feel I can take my time to take it all in. No rush.

  7. Do you have any Lowcountry rituals?
    GC: I run the Cooper River Bridge almost every Wednesday with this crazy running group and whenever I have a little staycation time our family commits to watching the sunrise one day – Morris Island and Sunrise Park on James Island are our favorites to date!
    SC: Great question, I love that “Lowcountry rituals”. This is so boring, probably, but I love my daily, round-trip work commute. I derive so much from bodies of water and I cross two rivers on my way in to work and on my way home. I always turn my head (bad driving practice, I know). The riverbanks here are exquisite.

  8. What is your favorite Charleston season?
    GC: Fall – because it feels like a cooler version of summer and I already have a tan.
    SC: Fall – but it’s my favorite everywhere.

  9. What is your favorite local festival and why?
    GC: I like the Charleston Wine + Food Festival for what it has done to put Charleston on the map as a culinary destination. SEWE is a close second – I have excellent memories of my father taking us out of school so we could go see the wildlife exhibits when I was a kid (back then, we called it “The Expo”)!
    SC: Restaurant Week – ALL the good foods for a fraction of the cost and its semi-annual. What’s not to like??

  10. If you could tell others looking to move to Charleston one thing, what would it be?
    GC: Commit to taking it all in; try things that may seem a little crazy (they’re the most fun!). And try not to tell us how good it is up north!
    SC: I think expectation management is important. The cost of living here in *some* regards is less but be prepared for salaries to be significantly lower. Really build your network – that is how you hear about opportunities or get referrals. Be open to trying very southern things like Oyster Roasts, grits, and greens on New Year’s. When in Rome!