Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Historic Preservation (MHP)


Historic Preservation

Committee Chair/Advisor

Amalia Leifeste

Committee Member

Dr. Laurel Bartlett

Committee Member

Staci Richey

Committee Member

James Ward


Sweetgrass baskets are a popular souvenir for tourists visiting the Lowcountry and for collectors who admire the folk art of the Gullah Geechee people. The stands at which these baskets are sold can be found along Highway 17 in Mount Pleasant, SC. This area was once a rural community that has been developed due to suburban sprawl since the early 20th century. Due to this development, as well as the lack of availability of sweetgrass and other natural resources to create these baskets, the landscape of roadside business at these basket stands is different than it was when the first basket stands were built in the 1930s. While sweetgrass baskets have been studied for decades, the stands at which these baskets were sold are a newer topic of study as the city of Mount Pleasant further develops. The last time these stands were studied was during a 2009 survey completed by New South Associates before the expansion of Highway 17 that was completed in 2013. This thesis aims to answer the question: how have the sweetgrass basket stands along Highway 17 in Mount Pleasant as a point-of-sale evolved?

Using historic photographs and surveys of the basket stands from 2009 and 2024, a timeline of the stands’ evolution was created and major changes in the stands were documented every 10 to 20 years. Between 1930 and today, major evolutionary changes range from the design of the stands, construction methods, construction materials, robustness, types of signage, and setback distances. This thesis is important because it is the first known documentation of the evolution of this form of temporary architecture. As development in Mount Pleasant continues and highway traffic along Highway 17 continues to increase, this thesis documents the historic and current state of the sweetgrass basket stands along the highway. This study also serves as a resource for cultural heritage documentation and can be the framework for future studies of sweetgrass basket stands or similar cultural resources.



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