(Inset) Troy Miller borrows a Muni golf cart to point out the area’s attributes, including its views of Wappoo Creek and its avenue of oaks on Wappoo Drive.
An old landscape architecture adage is that you never build paths, you let people beat them. Troy Miller’s family has done its share of path-beating throughout Riverland Terrace on James Island. His grandfather, Aaron “Harry” Miller, caddied at the adjacent Charleston Municipal Golf Course a few years after its 1929 opening. His dad, PGA pro golfer Ronnie Miller, landed his first job there. And Miller himself grew up hitting the links at the Muni.
“We’ve got deep roots here,” says Miller, roots that he, as a golf course architect, further strengthened with his 2020 renovation of the course. The Muni, formerly unplayable for days after king tides and storms, has since been named by Golf magazine as one the country’s top 20 municipal golf courses.
It was a “labor of love,” notes Miller, who volunteered his time to renovate the course that serves as the entry point to Riverland Terrace, where he and his wife, National Weather Desk meteorologist Emily Gracey Miller, and their children, nine-year-old Aaron and four-year-old Addison, call home.
Miller, who serves as president of the neighborhood association, loves the proximity to the Muni, the legions of kids, the variety of majestic trees, the parks, and the neighborhood’s perch at the intersection of the Stono River and Wappoo Creek. But it’s the artsy, eclectic, laid-back character that distinguishes Riverland Terrace, he says. “It’s something that we try to protect—to make sure that as new elements come into the neighborhood, they blend. That it’s something that looks like it’s of the place and not just of the time.”
That doesn’t equate to homogeneity—quite the contrary. “We have such a great cross section of Charleston,” he says. “We go from waterfront properties that are some of the nicest in town to two-bed, one-bath bungalows.”
Miller, chief development officer with Southworth Development, says the goal in his industry is to build a place where people want to live and not leave. “Riverland Terrace is a really early example in the US of that kind of master-planned community,” he says. The first homes were built in 1927, and the developer, Edisto Realty Co., donated the land where the Muni now stands to the city to be used as a public golf course.
Miller recently led a tour—on a golf cart, naturally—along the beaten paths and paved roads of Riverland Terrace to share some of the many reasons why he loves to live here.
(Clockwise from top) The Sunday Brunch Farmers Market and Zia Taqueria’s new spot across Maybank Highway. Millers All Day is a recent addition to the bustling restaurants and bars in Terrace Plaza.
One of the neighborhood’s draws is its proximity to shops and restaurants, such as Crust Wood Fired Pizza (1956-B Maybank Hwy., crustwoodfiredpizza.com). Miller’s favorite is the Crustacean, a pesto-based pie with shrimp, prosciutto, feta, mozzarella, and arugula. “But really what does it for me is the chili oil,” he says.
Next door, he’s eager to try Millers All Day (1956-A Maybank Hwy., millersallday.com), the popular downtown breakfast spot that recently added an outpost here. Meanwhile, the former tenant, Zia Taqueria (1939-A Maybank Hwy., ziataco.com), just moved across the street, so he can still get his fill of tacos—carne asada, pollo verde, and chicken Yucatan.
An inside tip: The Fox Den at the Muni (2110 Maybank Hwy., charleston-sc.gov/644/golf) draws quite the lunch crowd with what Miller says are the best—and some of the cheapest—cheeseburgers in town. He also raves about the Sichuan fare at Kwei Fei (1977 Maybank Hwy., kweifei.com), but his kids don’t like the spice level. When they get to pick, it’s always Maybank Public House (1970 Maybank Hwy., maybankpublichouse.com), where they obsess over the buttered noodles.
Bakery Sweet Rhi (2000 Wappoo Dr., sweetrhi.com) sits on a stretch that Miller would love to see grow into more of a pedestrian destination. “This could be our own little Pitt Street, like in Mount Pleasant’s Old Village,” he says.
The Terrace Theater (1956-D Maybank Hwy., terracetheater.com) is a big hit with the entire movie-loving family. Another hot spot is The Pour House (1977 Maybank Hwy., charlestonpourhouse.com), which has great live music. Its Sunday Brunch Farmers Market (sundaybrunchfarmersmarket.com) “has some of the best vendors,” says Miller, calling out Rio Bertolini’s fresh pastas and Annie O’ Love’s cookies. While many of his neighbors wind down the weekend there, they kick it off at Food Truck Friday (facebook.com/groups/riverlandterracefoodtruckfridays), when at least one mobile eatery sets up shop the second and fourth week of each month at Medway Park. “It’s a blast,” he says.
For adults-only nights out, Miller heads to Paddock & Whisky (1962 Maybank Hwy., paddockandwhisky.com). “I’m a Bourbon guy, and they have one of the best lists I’ve seen anywhere,” he notes. He’s also a fan of Bar George (1956 Maybank Hwy., bar-georgechs.com), where chef Alex Lira serves “great cocktails and crudo and high-end, interesting small dishes,” like Greek caviar dip and broiled oysters.
The Charleston Flower Market is where Troy Miller buys his mom’s favorite flowers, white stock. Down the road, chef Rhiannon Chandler Dillon makes her award-winning wedding cakes at Sweet Rhi. A second location for downtown juice bar and cafe Huriyali will be a neighbor soon.
Miller also appreciates the diversity of businesses. Jae Space (2041-A Wappoo Dr., jaespace.com) is a hair salon and bodega, selling food, drinks, candles, and jewelry from local artisans. The blooms brightening the corner of Terrace Plaza, the strip anchored by the theater, are from Charleston Flower Market (1952 Maybank Hwy., charlestonflowermarket.com). Its neighbors include Charleston Medical Spa (1950-A Maybank Hwy., charlestonmedicalspa.com) and Reflections Nail Studio (1966 Maybank Hwy.), where Miller’s mother and wife are regulars.
Many of the shops occupy buildings that evoke the neighborhood’s early days. The “Psaras 1945” sign on the Keepsakes Florist building (2024 Wappoo Dr., keepsakesflorist.net) hearkens back to the old general store owned by Eva and Isadore Psaras. And Bryson’s Garage (2032 Wappoo Dr., brysonsgarage.com) is a mainstay.
(Right) The Croffead House; (Left) A 1936 windmill was moved from Wappoo Hall Road to Plymouth Park in 2001
For many, Riverland Terrace’s greatest assets are its natural resources. The Millers log many miles walking Max, their golden retriever puppy, through the picturesque streets and parks.
Miller stops at a spot on Lakeshore Drive with views of the Wappoo Cut. “You always see some kayakers out here, and there’s usually a minnow trap down in the pond that my son will check,” he says. “Just a good place to explore nature, which is the way I grew up—tromping around in the pluff mud and exploring the little islands in the salt marshes.”
He points out a sprawling oak at the corner of Coker Avenue and Old Point Road. “This is one of my kids’ favorite climbing trees,” he says. “It’s almost like a balance beam.” Miller and the neighborhood association have devoted a lot of time to preserving the historic canopy of trees on Wappoo Drive, planted in the late 1800s by Priestly C. Coker, caretaker of Charleston Mayor John F. Ficken’s Wappoo Hall Plantation.
The boat landing at the end of Plymouth Avenue is another popular spot, “but it’s not for the faint at heart,” Miller warns. “The current is pretty significant.” Next to it is Plymouth Park, which Addison, a “playground connoisseur,” chose for her birthday party. “It’s her home turf,” Miller says.
On the other end of the neighborhood is Medway Park, built by the Charleston Parks Conservancy in 2017. As Miller points out the baseball field, basketball courts, and community garden, he spots his son and gives him a lift home. While Miller loves the historical houses here—his own was built in 1934—he feels the examples of modern architecture, such as the Croffead House, only add to its charm. The tall concrete home, designed in 1988 by W.G. Clark and Charles Menefee, has massive windows highlighting its postcard view of the Stono. “It feels very much like a Charleston single with a modern interpretation,” Miller says.
Next to Croffead House sits a pocket park with benches fronting the confluence of the Wappoo Cut and the Stono River. It’s ideal for watching summertime sunsets, Miller says, while a bench at the Muni is popular on winter evenings. Midway between the two spots, along the banks of the Stono, another sunset lookout is in the works. The city is planning a passive park and kayak launch at Fort Pemberton, a nearly nine-acre property that housed an earthen fortress for Confederate troops. And of course, the Muni is near and dear to Miller’s heart. He enjoys seeing neighbors strolling the paths in the evenings: “It’s exactly in the spirit of public golf.”
Read More: A Brief History of Riverland Terrace and the “Muni” Golf Course