The community of West Ashley is considered the oldest suburb of the city of Charleston, and is so named because it is located west of the Ashley River. The area is historically significant – it’s where English colonists from Bermuda established the first permanent settlement in 1670 under the leadership of the first Governor of South Carolina, William Sayle. The settlement was named Charles Town and it would later be moved across the river and become the city of Charleston.
Today, West Ashley is a thriving, primarily residential community with major retail centers and numerous neighborhoods that include some of the most coveted addresses in the area. Transportation routes and thoroughfares that conveniently connect West Ashley residents to Charleston include Highway 17 and Interstate 526.
West Ashley offers a diverse range of housing options spread across a large number of communities. These include single-family residences, townhouses, and condominiums. You will also find sprawling estates, waterfront properties, and even the occasional historic plantation home.
Some homes are on wooded, expansive lots that give the feeling of living in the countryside, even though downtown Charleston downtown is only a few minutes away. Those who prefer to build their own homes can also avail of vacant land and lots suitable for new construction.
West Ashley is well-known for its large amount of quiet and highly sought-after neighborhoods, with homes found along oak-lined streets and offering amazing views of the creeks, marshes, and waterways. Among the more notable neighborhoods in West Ashley are:
- Albemarle Point
- Ashley Harbor
- Bulow Plantation
- Byrnes Downs
- Concord West of the Ashley
- Edgewater Park
- Ripley Light Marina
- South Windermere
- The Colony at Heron Reserve
- The Crescent
- Wappoo Heights
Areas of interest
Charles Towne Landing is the historic site where the English colonists established the first permanent English settlement in Carolina. Encompassing 664 acres, the area features a Visitor Center, where visitors can interact with hands-on exhibits or take an audio tour on the self-guided history trail.
Come aboard the Adventure, a replica of a 17th-century sailing ship, or visit the Animal Forest natural habitat zoo and see the bears, bison, bobcats, otters, and pumas, plus other birds and animals. Charles Towne Landing also has 80 acres of gardens, including a live oak alley, as well as the Legare-Waring House, an elegant early representation of an antebellum plantation home that’s often used as a venue for weddings and special events.
Speaking of plantation homes, the area along Ashley River Road or Highway 61 is the location of three notable homes that are also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. There’s Drayton Hall, a National Historic Landmark that’s also one of the more outstanding examples of Palladian architecture. Then there’s Middleton Place, with its distinctive terraced colonial gardens, and Magnolia Plantation. The latter is considered the oldest public tourist site in the Lowcountry, with gardens that have been selected as one of "America’s Most Beautiful Gardens" by Travel + Leisure Magazine.
Shoppers will feel right at home at the Citadel Mall, one of the largest shopping malls in South Carolina. Opened in 1981, the mall has six anchor stores – Belk, Dillard’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods, JCPenney, Sears, and Target – as well as over 100 shops and restaurants. There’s also an IMAX cinema complex nearby.