Evolving from a handful of Cooper River plantations, South Carolina’s third largest city saw many changes in the late 19th and early 20th century. Liberty Hill, a community of freed slaves from Charleston who called this area home, was founded in what is now North Charleston in 1871. A few years later a group of developers founded nearby Chicora Park. This was a planned community designed in 1896 by the Olmstead Brothers who had gained notoriety for their design of Central Park in New York. They also designed Hampton Park and Cannonborough Park in Charleston.
The destiny of Chicora Park was forever changed on April 8, 1902, when President Theodore Roosevelt visited Charleston and following a tour of the area stated that Charleston would be an ideal place for a naval base. The city of Charleston gave the original property to the Navy to entice them to build the base here instead of Port Royal in Beaufort. Construction began shortly thereafter. For the next 95 years the naval presence in the area defined the development of what we now know as North Charleston.
In 1996 Congress closed the Charleston Naval Base and many expected the economy of the Charleston area to suffer badly. But progressive minded redevelopment of the Navy Base & Park Circle initiated by the City of North Charleston, the Redevelopment Authority and the former Noisette Company created what has become one of the most important sustainable community redevelopment efforts in US history. The accompanying redevelopment of East Montague Avenue and the Old Village has also given the area the chance to reclaim much of the Mayberry-like charm that was originally intended by the Olmstead Brothers and the founders of Chicora Park before the base came into existence.