Pine Tree Motel, Mosquito Beach

Pine Tree Motel, Mosquito Beach

Charleston, South Carolina

Built: 1961

What is its history?

The rural island community of Mosquito beach off of Sol Legare Road on James Island was a popular waterfront hangout for African-Americans in the early 1950s during the time of segregation. Because blacks were forbidden at white beaches on Folly, the black residents were forced to travel to black beaches such as Riverside Beach, which was all the way in Mount Pleasant. As a resolution, the owners of the Creekside property, which is still owned today by the same family, opened a pavilion in 1953. The community was christened "Mosquito Beach" in an attempt at realistic irony in honor of the pesky insects that populated the marsh. The "Pine Tree Hotel" was constructed in 1961 and had 14 rooms where guests shared a common kitchen and bathroom.

What are its challenges?

Mosquito Beach began to lose its popularity with African-Americans following the desegregation of more popular beaches nearby. Hurricane Hugo damaged the hotel in 1989 and it was closed for repairs, but without customers, it never reopened. Recently, the owners of Pine Tree Hotel had to defend the structure against aggressive Charleston County Building inspectors who fought for having the building demolished. After making the building safe from trespassers and enclosing it in a chain link fence, Charleston County continued to demand its demolition and the owners had to defend itself in court. Though a the most recent judgement dismissed the county's claims, the hardships put on the owner make it difficult to have the resources to rehabilitate the property.

What it represents:

The importance of historical places that are not architectural significant but important to the cultural history of a community.