Some History on Chicora Park, aka the Officer’s Housing Historic District at the Navy Yard.


Plat of Chicora Park, the design of Frederick Law Olmstead

The neighborhood where the Officer’s Quarters are located in beautiful rolling high land unusual for the Lowcountry.  In 1895, the City of Charleston Board of Park Commissioners purchased nearly 600 acres of Retreat Plantation bordering the Cooper River some four miles north of the city and by 1896 designated the new development as Chicora Park. Established just east of the Inland Trail, the Trail itself was a vital route of commerce, carrying goods between the sea coast and the Midlands of South Carolina. The famed Olmstead brothers, Frederick Law and James were hired to design it, and the street plan for the Officer’s Housing was part of the initial design. Frederick Law Olmstead was famous for designing fine parks and residential districts in garden settings. Among his accomplishments are Central Park in New York and the Riverside Avondale District in Jacksonville Florida. As the vision for Chicora expanded, the existing Turnbull Plantation was incorporated into the plan. In 1897 a rail line and a passenger station extended tracks from downtown Charleston  to Chicora Park. It was an ambitious project with saltwater lagoons and landscaped gardens. A pavilion had been built and many Charlestonians took the trolley to the park to picnic and dance on summer evenings  There was a bandstand and a small zoo.  With the zoo in place, a caretaker’s cottage was built, and that structure is today known as Quarters F. In 1899, more land was acquired for a golf course. Chicora Park was Charleston’s first urban planning effort as well as its first substantial experience with professional landscape architects.

Quarters F
In 1900, when the Federal Government was scouting the southeast for a site to expand a navy Yard, Port Royal near Beaufort was a top contender. The City of Charleston successfully lobbied for the new Base and On 12 August 1901, the Navy took possession of the property.  Captain Edwin Longnecker, representing the Navy, had arrived in Charleston from Washington the day before, accompanied by the government paymaster. On the afternoon of the twelfth, they took the trolley to the site and made a final inspection of the property.  Once this was done, a check in the amount of $34,307 was given to the city for 171 acres of Chicora Park and one for $50,000 to Mrs. Celia Lawton’s representative for 258 acres of the old Marshlands Plantation.  The City conveyed the 760 acres of marshland to the south to the Navy for one dollar.  The destiny of Chicora Park was forever changed. On April 8, 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt visited Charleston and stated that Charleston would be an ideal place for a naval base. Construction began
shortly thereafter. Over the next decade, the United States Navy took possession of 1,575 acres along the west bank of the Cooper River, consuming
the Park through its expansion. For the next 95 years, the naval presence in the area defined the development of what we now know as North Charleston. 
Charleston Old Walled City Tours offers themed tours of Historic Charleston including the Old Walled City Tour, the Home and Garden Tour, the Slavery and Freedom Tour, and the Charleston Ghost Walk. Go to to learn more!



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