West Ashley History Series kicks off this month at Hurd/St. Andrew’s Regional Library

Last year local historian and author Donna Jacobs was invited to do a lecture at the Cynthia Hurd/St. Andrew’s Regional Library in West Ashley. She was then approached about the possibility of doing a series on “The History of West Ashley.” A year later, that idea has become a reality, with Jacobs kicking off the three-part series on Thursday, Sept. 6 with a presentation on “The History of Pleasant Grove and Red Top,” which will delve into two geographic areas that are on the borders of St. Andrew’s Parish, the area now known as West Ashley.

The other programs include “The History of Maryville and Ashleyville” on Thursday, Oct. 4 with Diane Hamilton, a lifelong West Ashley resident and president of the Ashleyville Neighborhood Association. She, like Jacobs, also serves on the West Ashley Revitalization Commission. The third part of the West Ashley History Series will be “The History of Dupont Station and the Dupont Family” on Thursday, Nov. 1 presented by Charlie Smith, a long-time West Ashley resident and local preservationist. Smith is owner of CSA Real Estate Services and is a former county planning commissioner. All of the West Ashley History events begin at 6 p.m. and there will be refreshments available.

“During my tenure on the West Ashley Revitalization Commission the topic of community identity and West Ashley branding was a hot topic,” says Jacobs, who is a longtime Byrnes Downs resident who also writes the monthly West Ashley Flashback column for this paper. “Understanding our local history and its place in the greater Charleston history is one way to begin the process of understanding our identity.”

Back in 2008 when Jacobs researched and wrote her first book Byrnes Downs as part of Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America Series, she began her journey as West Ashley’s unofficial historian. “When I was approached by the publisher to continue with a book on West Ashley, I realized that ‘I didn’t even know what I didn’t know’ about West Ashley,” she says. “The modern history of St. Andrew’s Parish, the name for this area prior to being annexed into the City of Charleston, was not formally documented.”

Many of these treasured stories only exist in people’s memories. So Jacobs has had a mission to meet as many of these people, document their stories, and help gather any photographs that they may have from that time period. “I love hearing from people. I hope to meet new faces and get the chance to learn more stories from the people that may come to enjoy the series,” says Jacobs.

“The story of how the area transitioned from an agrarian culture to a suburban community is rich, deep and full of spirit,” says Jacobs. “I decided to keep digging and learning the stories. West Of Free Press has allowed me to share what I discovered in the West Ashley Flashback column.”

Cynthia Hurd/St. Andrews Regional Library is located at 1735 N. Woodmere Dr. For more information, call (843) 766-2546 or visit www.ccpl.org.

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