When Donna Jacobs and her husband, Jeffrey, decided to buy a home in the mid-'80s, Byrnes Downs was the only neighborhood they looked at. The only one they seriously considered.
Now, after nearly two decades of collecting a photo here and a tidbit of information there, she has brought it together in a book called "Byrnes Downs." Not only does it highlight the history of the historical neighborhood that stretches roughly from Campbell Drive to Coburg Road bordered by Savannah Highway and marshy land, but it exemplifies the spirit and gusto that Jacobs still has about her beloved Byrnes Downs.
"I like small, older neighborhoods like this. I always have … I liked the aura of this kind of neighborhood, if you will," she said. Jacobs added that she loved the look and feel of it from the first time she drove around the area, as well as the amount of long-time residents who are friendly with one another.
"Byrnes Downs" was released by Arcadia Publishing as part of its Images of America series. A narrative outlines its beginnings as "374 Modern, permanent homes inspired by the desire to contribute to winning of the War," but the majority of the book has pictures she gleaned from area residents and an extensive scrapbook started by the women of the Byrnes Downs Garden Club in the early '50s.
"The real inspiration for the book was the Garden Club scrapbook," Jacobs said. "This scrapbook is such a gem, and it was in immaculate condition." One of the club's historians, May Rossiter , documented a lot of the happenings in the subdivision in its infancy, such as clippings from The News and Courier and publications from the Exchange Club of St. Andrews Parish.
Byrnes Downs started to develop during the end of World War II. It was one of the original suburban neighborhoods that developed west of the Ashley River post-war. Jacobs said extended families that were living in single-family dwellings on the crowded peninsula were itching to move to the other side to develop their own communities. For instance, John Wesley United Methodist and Blessed Sacrament on U.S. Highway 17 both have strong ties to the people living in the surrounding area.
"When you look at the original charter members of these churches, it's a who's-who of the people living there at the time," she said. "Everybody knows Byrnes Downs, everyone wants to live in Byrnes Downs, they know someone who lived there, their grandmother lived there, something like that. People feel safe in the neighborhood and love living there."