Bayview Acres. The name itself is charming, and it was meant to be. In the early 20th century, Bayview Acres was created to lure city folks to the burgeoning suburban community of Mount Pleasant, an early piece of the puzzle that would grow into the modern metropolis we know and love today.
In 1937, the town of Mount Pleasant launched a campaign to draw downtown Charleston folks across the Cooper River. At the town’s centennial celebration, the Chamber of Commerce invited people to “come to Mount Pleasant and live!” Just a short drive from the city and the numerous jobs at the Charleston Naval Shipyard, the easy commute to both from the first planned suburban development in Mount Pleasant was a bonus. There was even regular bus service subsidized by the power company.
It stands to reason that this neighborhood closest to the bridge was the first on the scene – excluding, of course, the centuries-old “Village” and the historic African American Settlement Communities. In the post-WW2 era, Americans migrated out of cities, flocking to brand-new “tract-housing” neighborhoods — large tracts of farmland subdivided into planned suburban developments. Veterans’ loans were available to men who’d served in the war, allowing families to leave city dwellings and establish their own homes. It was the beginning of the American Dream.
The Bayview Acres neighborhood was officially established in 1954, but some of the homes date to 1945. Bayview Farm owners Daisie L. Sessions, Ruth B. Smith, John Bethea, Olive B. Hall and Alice B. McQueen stipulated with the sale of their farm a covenant for the new subdivision, ensuring it would remain strictly residential. Further, they required no more than one home per lot and that each home’s design would be “in reasonably substantial conformity with others in the neighborhood.” No animals other than household pets and egg-producing hens were allowed. Septic tanks provided for the disposal of sewage until a municipal sewer system became available. Residents were instructed to avoid any offensive activity that was a nuisance or annoyance to the neighborhood.
Sessions donated a specific parcel for use as a neighborhood playground, targeting young families. The Bayview Acres Civic Club was set up to provide and maintain the playground and neighborhood entrance markers and was also responsible for street paving and installing street signs. Then, in 1957, Bayview Acres was designated as a bird and squirrel sanctuary, ensuring that hunting of either was not permitted, helping to secure a more family-friendly identity. Later, the neighborhood’s civic club spearheaded a county-wide effort to create a mosquito abatement program established to deal with the summertime pests.
Bayview Acres has changed a great deal over the last 75 years. Some of the original bungalows have been replaced with larger homes, and several half-acre lots have even been subdivided to allow additional houses to be built. But the neighborhood helped set the town on a course of becoming a highly desirable place to raise a family, and the allure of “coming to Mount Pleasant to live” continues today.