WCBD News 2

A living history: the story of Scanlonville

Mount Pleasant, SC (WCBD) — Between the Cooper River and  Molasses Creek, you’ll find sprawling marshes overlooked by moss covered branches and bridge spires. It’s an area know to many as Remley’s Point. To the descendants of those who founded the area; however, it’s known as Scanlonville.

“Scanlonville was a community founded in 1868,” says East Cooper Civic Club president, Edward Lee. “It was new for the south. It was new for the United States. It was founded out of necessity.”

It was founded by John Scanlon, a freedman who purchased 614 acres of land at auction for 6,100 dollars.

The land was formerly the Remley Plantation, but financial troubles at the height of reconstruction caused the price to drop from what some estimates show may have been 50,000 dollars at one time.

Scanlon purchased the property through The Charleston Land Company, a company he started with 100 other former slaves, each buying in at 10 dollars a share.

It was divided into 2 acre lots with numbered streets. Each shareholder was free to work the land, and bound only to a sense of community.

“I believe the local newspaper characterized it as colored communism back in the day,” says Lee, “It was uncommon for a group of people to join together and just take care of their own needs”

Stonemasons, teachers, builders and blacksmiths, each lending their skills to the community. They even built one another’s houses. Some of those houses are still standing today.

Lee says the same practice continued when his family moved to the neighborhood in 1959.

He says it was a tight knit community then as well. Scanlonville was home to one of the areas first African-American beaches called Riverside. It also was home to a nightclub that hosted music legends.

“It wasn’t unusual to see James Brown playing baseball with the kids before a big show that night. Nobody thought anything about it,” says Lee.

Now the area is among Mount Pleasant’s hottest real estate.  Many of the same lots could sell for upwards of half a million dollars.

The area is rapidly changing, leaving those whose families built the area wondering how they can hold on to their homes and hold on to their heritage.

“Everybody is interested in the written history, but I always look at it as a living history,” says Lee, “the folks you are talking about that did these things, their families are still here.”