Atlanticville Historic District
Join SiP on a walking tour of Atlanticville, one of Sullivan's Island’s five registered historic districts. By Kimbermarie Faircloth. Photos by Steve Rosamilia.
As you wind around neighborhood streets and walk among sandy stations, it’s easy to forget that every inch of Sullivan’s island is teeming with history. While some of it is obvious — Fort Moultrie has clearly weathered many a battle — other Sullivan’s Island stories are not so well known, nor so visible.
There are four official historic districts on the island: “Atlanticville,” “Fort Moultrie Quartermaster,” “Moultrieville” and “Sullivan’s Island.” Each has been designated as historically or architecturally significant by the U.S. Department of Interior and placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The very first historic district in America was established in Charleston in 1931.
In this issue of SiP, we take a tour of the Atlanticville Historic District, which encompasses more than fifty historic buildings between stations 22 1/2 and 26 on Middle Street, Jasper Boulevard, I’on, Atlantic and Myrtle avenues. This area is significant as it contains a large selection of quintessential “Island Houses” from a period between 1880 and 1950, as well as original church buildings and a school.
Sullivan’s Island Graded School, 2302 Middle St.
Imagine a handful of children playing on the sunny lawn of this building, which has been standing since 1925, although its use as a school ended in the mid-1950s. The four white columns hold up the facade of a seafoam-colored building, which was built as the population of the island proliferated. Before the arrival of the Graded School, schools on the island were moved from house to house until the town committee agreed on a final location for the school.
Minot-Blanchard House, 2424 Middle St.
Pyramidal brick steps lead into the screened porch of what was known as the Minot-Blanchard House, built in 1915. The Lovell family, who now reside there, has inhabited the Minot-Blanchard House for over a decade. It came to them called “The Vagabond Villa,” and they renamed it to “The Lovell Shack,” following a treasured island tradition of nicknaming your home. A fun fact about 2424 Middle Street, New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank grew up here, her mother was a Blanchard. It was the sale of the house after her mother’s death that prompted her to become a writer.
Water Tower, 2450 Quarter St.
Rising 120 feet above the island is a bright blue water tower that stands where islanders used to gather well water. Constructed in 1945, at the close of World War II, the tower is around the corner from the Bischoff House. Sullivan’s Island was home to soldiers and operated as a firing range during WWII; the sounds of their practicing were supposedly so loud and constant that glasses would shatter across the island during practice.
African-American Cemetery, 400 Block, Station 22.5
As you arrive on Sullivan’s from Mount Pleasant, a historic marker on your left signals the location of the African-American Cemetery. Likely founded in the 1870s, it’s the final resting place of parishioners from Mt. Zion AME Church and Stella Maris Catholic Church. Island resident Elmore Browne, from a prominent African American family on the island who ran an oyster business, spearheaded the effort to preserve the cemetery.
“This is a part of trying to preserve a bit of the history of Sullivan’s Island, especially as far as African-Americans are concerned,” Browne said in an interview in 2008. “They helped build the fortress that was here during the Revolutionary War, through the years they’ve had a presence here and it’s very well that we try to preserve and to document that history.” According to Browne, most of those interred in the cemetery were carpenters, cooks, oystermen, laundresses, nursemaids, housekeepers, midwives, soldiers and seamen. Some were his friends and relatives. Few grave markers remain, and the last funeral took place in 1948, just before the Ben Sawyer Bridge was built
Allen-Jones House, 419-425 Station 23
In 1902, Allen Perry Jones, known as A.P. Jones, began the construction of this house with a single room. Jones, who would become the father of ten children, had moved to Sullivan’s from downtown to work at Fort Moultrie. During his first stay he was hosted by his future wife, Margaret Pezant Jones. The Allen-Jones House is exemplary of island homes on Sullivan’s, as most of them were built and owned by families still living here. Many would use their homes on Sullivan’s Island seasonally, but now, thanks to the advent of air conditioning, families live here year-round.
Bischoff House, 2430 Middle St.
The 117-year-old Bischoff House sits solemnly on Middle Street, half-hidden by a myriad of green foliage. Although unlived in for many years, it is a good example of a simple island cottage, the type commonly constructed in the early 1900s. A one-story, three by one bay frame core with a side gable V-crimped metal roof (a common roofing material on the island), this home also has a half story with dormers, making it more substantial in appearance, yet still rather simple in character. Allen-Jones House, 419-425 Station 23 In 1902, Allen Perry Jones, known as A.P. Jones, began the construction of this house with a single room. Jones, who would become the father of ten children, had moved to Sullivan’s from downtown to work at Fort Moultrie. During his first stay he was hosted by his future wife, Margaret Pezant Jones. The Allen-Jones House is exemplary of island homes on Sullivan’s, as most of them were built and owned by families still living here. Many would use their homes on Sullivan’s Island seasonally, but now, thanks to the advent of air conditioning, families live here year-round.
2508 Atlantic Ave.
Built in 1895, this home stands just a few blocks over from the Church of the Holy Cross, an Episcopal church with three locations spread amongst the islands. Sullivan’s, however, is the original location and the church was used seasonally at the beginning of its life. 2508 Atlantic Ave. was built just thirteen years before the church, which is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Over time, the church kept its location and during World War II also served as a medical station.