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Seabrook Island celebrates 30 years as incorporated township

Seabrook Island celebrates 30 years as incorporated township

On the outskirts of Charleston sits a quaint community that hugs the coast. Seabrook Island's rolling waves have welcomed visitors since the 1600s.

"I’m certain there were pirates here," said Ronald Ciancio, the town's mayor. "The British used this as their staging areas to launch attacks on Charleston in the Revolutionary War. There was a huge skirmish in the Civil War right outside the gates."

It's a storied island that has fascinated Ciancio, who has been at the helm of town hall for two years now, so much so he's written a book on the town's tales.

"The island went through a series of owners over the years," he explained. "There was in fact a Seabrook family that owned the island. That’s how it got its name. There are still remnants of the Seabrook family in Charleston to this day."

Richard Seabrook, the original owner, was a successful British businessmen who landed at Charles Towne and was eventually convicted of trading with pirates, according to historians. The island was then sold for worthless Confederate paper.

Fast forward hundreds of years, and it soon became a summer camp for kids after a New York lawyer passed away.

"When he and his wife died, their will stipulated that the island could only be used for a camp for children, and, of course, that is Camp Saint Christopher," said Ciancio.

Still, Seabrook wasn't an official town until 1987.

That's when 85 percent of residents finally voted to incorporate the island to stop a man from overdeveloping the tiny island.

"His concept was to build high-rise condos right on the ocean front here," Ciancio said. "Obviously that would have changed the character of the island, and the residents became very upset."

The good times didn't last though. Just two years later, Mother Nature dealt her devastating blow when Hurricane Hugo hit, leaving a wake of destruction.

Still, Ciancio said the people of Seabrook are strong-willed and rooted in a strong sense of community, not just in Seabrook but beyond.

"We’re all very appreciative of not only the history of the island but the resources of the island," he said. "We have a very engaged community and volunteerism is a huge part of our community. Not only here on the island but off island as well."

Ciancio also said there is no developer-owned real estate on the island.

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