- Our History
- A Brief History of Mount Pleasant
- Late 19th Century
Late 19th Century
Borders ExpandIn 1872, Mount Pleasant expanded its borders to include the Shem Creek settlement called Lucasville and Hibben’s Ferry Tract. Two years later, the town council carried a motion to assist with railroad construction but the rail line was never built. The absence of a rail connection limited local industrial development. The area’s economy was centered on commercial farming. These large farms employed many African-American laborers who also grew their own produce to supplement incomes. The town maintained its reputation as a pleasure resort destination. Visitors could enjoy beautiful Alhambra Park and Alhambra Hall, take a trolley over to the Isle of Palms, climb aboard an excursion boat around the harbor, or stay in one of many cottages available for rent throughout the village.
Image courtesy of Arcadia Publishing Inc., Best of South Carolina Lowcountry
Berkeley County CourthouseThe Town of Mount Pleasant was initially situated in Charleston County but became the Berkeley County seat when Charleston County was divided in 1883. This led to important preparations including the construction of the Berkeley County Court House located at the intersection of Pitt and King streets, now known as the Darby Building. The town already had 4 miles of shell-paved roads, nine shops, a brick and tile factory, a sawmill, and 783 residents. In 1895, Mount Pleasant was annexed back to Charleston County, and both counties refused to pay the overdue bill for bricks used to build the courthouse. Over 100 years later, historian Petrona Royall McIver expressed modern sentiment over the town’s shifting locale when she remarked that Mount Pleasant was “shuttled back and forth by the powers that be.”
Image courtesy of Howard Woody, Tom Johnson, South Carolina Post Cards Vol 1 (Mount Pleasant, SC: Arcadia Publishing Inc.)
1886 EarthquakeOn August 31, 1886, a massive earthquake rattled the Charleston area and Mount Pleasant residents ran out of their houses seeking open places to escape harm. Astonishingly, there was no loss of life in Mount Pleasant during this earthquake. People set up tent camps and makeshift shelters. According to Carl McKinley of the News and Courier, “Immediately after the great shock on Tuesday night, a strong odor, remarkable for the presence of sulphur [sic] bases, permeated the atmosphere, and was perceptible throughout the night.” Unlike the City of Charleston, Mount Pleasant suffered very little property damage. No houses were thrown down although its residents were equally terrified by the event. One explanation for the difference is that fewer bricks were used in the construction of Mount Pleasant buildings. The town recovered from this natural disaster within a few years.
Model TownOn September 4, 1889, the News and Courier published an article reporting on the town’s state of affairs: “The health of Mount Pleasant has been unprecedentedly fine for the past year. The Town Council expends about $2,000 on the streets and other necessary improvements, and the money is so judiciously applied that Mount Pleasant, in regard to general appearance, is one of the model towns of the State.”
Dr. Dupre's QuiltIn 1994, historian Mary-Julia Royall wrote that a group of ladies belonging to the Mount Pleasant Presbyterian Church and other denominations, called the "Earnest Workers," crafted this crazy quilt for town physician Dr. Dupre. Presented to their beloved doctor in 1895, this quilt was made of 30 handcrafted squares—each initialed by the woman behind its creation—and given as a gift of appreciation for his lifetime of outstanding service as a physician and community leader. Dr. Dupre aptly named his quilt "Daisy" because for him, the flower represented the "synonym of these latter days of all that is nice and perfect."
Dr. Dupre's quilt was refurbished by the Mount Pleasant Historical Commission for the town's citizens in the mid-1990s. To learn more about Dr. Dupre, his quilt, and to view images including pictures of each individual square, please open the commission research file (takes one minute to load).
Alexander Knox's mill and
box factory, 1869
(Arcadia: SC Lowcountry)
Berkeley County Courthouse,
here, the Lutheran Seminary
(Arcadia: SC Postcards V. 1)
Crazy Quilt, 1895, handcrafted
for beloved physician Dr. Dupre