Bluffton (population 1,275) is located in Beaufort County, the southernmost county in South Carolina, just across the bridge from Hilton Head Island. In the early 1800s, families of rice and cotton planters came to the area to escape the heat, insects and malaria that affected coastal plantations in the summer months.

Located on a scenic bluff overlooking the May River, Bluffton offered plenty of boating, fishing, crabbing and shrimping opportunities. With easy access to Savannah, Beaufort and Charleston, Bluffton became an important distribution center, shipping valuable crops across the Southeast and beyond. Eventually, this active commerce brought year-round residents to Bluffton.

Bluffton was a headquarters for Confederate forces until Union forces on Hilton Head Island ordered the town’s destruction in 1863. Of the town’s approximately 60 structures, only two churches and 15 residences remained standing after the attack.

The centerpiece of Bluffton’s preservation movement is the Heyward House Historic Center, circa 1840, which attracts thousands of visitors each year. The home was built as a summer residence and possesses one of the area’s few remaining slave cabins constructed of wood. Other historic attractions include the three-story frame Fripp House, built around 1850; the Allen Lockwood House, a classic Lowcountry summer cottage built in the mid-1800s; and Campbell Chapel A.M.E. Church, a classic revival church built in 1853.

Designated a Preserve America Community in January 2006.


For more information

Heyward House Historic Center

Bluffton History