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Historic Bluffton

Bluffton’s birth and growth were intertwined with the rise of the Low Country rice and cotton plantations during the antebellum period.  Like other coastal communities it provided a refuge from the harsher plantation environment that often manifested itself with yellow fever and malaria outbreaks.  The high bluffs facing the May River welcomed the comforting southerly winds, keeping the mosquitos at bay and making sultry days bearable.  The town was where children could attend school and planter families could socialize and discuss the politics of the day

Bluffton’s first small dwellings were constructed in the early 1800s on the river’s bluffs which gave encouragement for others to follow.  The layout of the town’s streets in the 1830s indicated that it was a summer haven and soon a commercial center for isolated plantations in the vicinity via the May River.

The Bluffton Historic District was significant as a commercial center in Southern Beaufort County between 1880 and 1930, and due to the cohesiveness and clear identity of the architecture comprising the district. The Bluffton Historic District spans the years 1815 to 1945 and includes 46 buildings of both residential and commercial architecture and two natural landscape features that contribute to the district’s historic character and 17 buildings that do not contribute. The historic buildings are largely vernacular, but some houses demonstrate elements of the Queen Anne, Craftsman, and Colonial Revival styles. Most of the buildings are one- to two-story frames structures with brick pier foundations and full-width one-story porches. Most of the houses are small in scale; exteriors are commonly weatherboard and decorative features are minimal. Historic contexts represented within the Bluffton Historic District include: the Antebellum Resort Era (1815-1860), Civil War and Reconstruction (1860-1880), and Commercial Growth and Decline (1880-1945). The size and scale of the architecture, the paucity of antebellum resources, and the distinctive mixture of residential and commercial structures all reflect these historic contexts within the district. 

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