Next up on our tour of Charleston’s beach communities is Folly Island. Its position eight miles south from the center of downtown Charleston makes it the closest surf and sand you’ll find near that ancient city. One can be shopping Upper King and then laying beachside in less than twenty minutes. As a coastal market, housing is relatively steep on this barrier island, but it’s less so than Sullivan’s Island which we reviewed previously. Folly Island had its heyday in the 1930s to the 1950s, and you'll find that casual atmosphere and sense of fun has continued to present day.
European settlement on Folly Island is as old as that of Charleston, having started in the early 1600s. Lest you think the island’s name reflects some kind of joke, folly is actually an Old English word that describes an area of dense foliage. You know, like telly = television. Folly Island also holds a little bit of morbid history, as the western end was at one time nicknamed “Coffin Land.” This was derived from the practice of ships heading for the port of Charleston to drop off cholera victims beforehand; on the way back, they would pick up the survivors and bury the dead. If you like a home on the western end of Folly Island, don’t expect to be reimbursed for any necessary Poltergeist-style spirit counseling. We kid!
Up until the 1960s, the star attraction on Folly Island was the beach’s pier and its accompanying pavillions that housed all manner of eateries and salty fun pastimes. The pier went up in flames, but its replacement is no less impressive as the second longest such structure on the east coast. On any given day you’ll find it packed with fishers and those who love to watch them. Folly Beach is also known as one of the top surfing destinations in South Carolina. Cowabunga!
Folly Island is seven miles long, and Center Street divides the narrow strip into west and east sides. Along Center Street you’ll find the isle’s main shopping, eating and drinking dives. At the very eastern end of Folly Island the Morris Island is a haunting sight. The 1876 structure was at one time landlocked by now sits surrounded by water and decommissioned.
Housing on the island consists mainly of single family homes, and the oldest generally date to just before World War II. Trulia shows the average list price as of March 7th 2012 as $703,251; the median list price is $366,875. You can search Folly Island homes here.