Mosquito Beach on James Island could become national historic site

Updated: Jul. 26, 2019 at 6:53 AM EDT
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JAMES ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - On Friday, the State Historic Preservation Office will review a recommendation to add Mosquito Beach to the National Register of Historic Places.

Mosquito Beach is a small road off of Sol Legare Road on James Island but it has a big history.

In the 1950’s it was a safe haven for blacks who weren’t allowed to visit beaches like Folly or Sullivan’s Island to let loose and enjoy the waterfront.

At the height of its popularity, Mosquito Beach was a place for African-Americans across Charleston to dance, eat and celebrate their culture.

Bill “Cubby” Wilder owns a few buildings on Mosquito Beach and grew up in the area. He remembers the good times, the big-name performers and most importantly the impact on the community.

“It was a very significant area for black people to hang out, party and enjoy their culture and enjoy each other," he said. "And there was a lot of eating and of course girls looking at the guys , guys looking at the girls.”

The story of Mosquito Beach is not without flaws. In recent years a decline in visitors and a few crimes have tainted the history.

However, Wilder recognizes those issues and hopes this fight for preservation will give them an opportunity to restore Mosquito Beach to its glory days.

Wilder says the Lowcountry can’t afford to lose this history.

“If the history is gone and lost, then all you remnants of a an era gone with the wind. But Mosquito beach is going to go on the national record of historical places,” he said. "And I would cherish that.”

While it isn’t actually a beach, the waterfront marsh sits in the heart of the Gullah Geechie corridor. Supporters of mosquito beach say preserving this area and its buildings not only shares stories from the civil rights era but also protects Charleston’s native culture. Wilder is one of the people who will give a testimony at Friday’s hearing.

“Everyone who came down to Mosquito Beach had a naturally good time," he said. "When I was in college I used to bring some of my friends to Mosquito Beach and they couldn’t believe it. They said ‘unreal!’ Because it was really thriving and there was good food and dancing and music and people walking up and down.”

Wilder says at least 50 people are set to attend the hearing at 10 a.m in Columbia.

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