A HIDDEN LANDMARK EVERY CHARLESTONIAN SHOULD EXPERIENCE
Along .13-mile strip between Elijah Creek and King Flats Creek located off Sol Legare Road in James Island lies the nation’s newest historic district: Mosquito Beach. Between the 1940s and 1970s, the Mosquito Beach strip served as a social epicenter for the Black community west of the Ashley River and was home to a collection of “juke joints,” dance pavilions, restaurants, hotel and a boardwalk where hundreds would gather between Easter to Labor Day.
Mosquito Beach, named for its location along a secluded mosquito-infested marsh, became a popular Civil Rights-era destination during a time of deep oppression for the Lowcountry’s Black community, who were not allowed at nearby Folly Beach or the area’s other public beaches and waterways. To combat segregation, the Black citizens of Sol Legare created their own summertime destination and a refuge to swim (at high tide), fish and boat while enjoying the famous seafood, fried chicken and music of well-known regional performers, freely.
Today, many of the buildings survive and remain open as restaurants and bars by the same families who originally established them. Their survival embody the empowerment and entrepreneurship, as well as the sustainment of culture and tradition, displayed by Black citizens and tell the important story of how one small marsh became a legendary mecca of Lowcountry cultural expression through food, music and recreation.
HOW TO GET THERE: Turn right after the “Mosquito Beach” state historic marker on Folly Road and travel 1.5 miles on Sol Legare Road. Mosquito Beach's entrance will be on the left.
DON'T MISS the interpretive signage displayed throughout the district once you get there. Be sure to also walk by the c. 1964 Pine Tree Hotel, which is currently being restored by Historic Charleston Foundation (HCF) and the property owner through a grant given by the African American Civil Rights grant program administrated by the National Parks Service.