Situated on a high bluff overlooking the May River, Bluffton was settled in 1825 as a summer resort for rice and cotton planters. It was a hotbed for political rhetoric in the early 1840s and 1850s. The debate around succession was first given serious consideration in Bluffton. In June 1863, during the Civil War, Union Soldiers attacked and burned the city of Bluffton.
Among the structures that escaped civil war damage were Cole Heward House, Campbell Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, and the Church of the Cross, which today make up part of Bluffton’s Historic District.
The town is home to major arts and cultural festivals and events celebrating the Lowcountry way of life.
Golf, birding, fishing, river tours and water sports offer year round activity for outdoor lovers, while shopping and dining bring a distinct flavor combination of new and old.
The outlet stores, boutique shopping, and casual dining offer plenty of variety along with popular gathering spots for residents and visitors.
Bluffton, with its convenient location near Savannah, Hilton Head, and Beaufort, has experienced major population growth during the past decade with the annexation of undeveloped land leading to extensive residential and commercial development. Nearby are the Hilton Head Gateway Campus (main campus) of the university of South Carolina Beaufort and the New River Campus of the Technical College of the Lowcountry as well as Sun City.
POINTS OF INTEREST
Campbell Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church
23 Boundary Street
The Bluffton Methodist Episcopal Church was built in 1853. It was purchased in 1874 by nine former slaves, who were looking for a building in which to establish an African Methodist Episcopal church, a black denomination gaining popularity in the south. The church was renamed Campbell Chapel in honor of J.P. Campbell, the eighth bishop of the AME church.
Michael C. Riley Elementary School
200 Burnt Church Road
The school is named for a prominent African American education in Bluffton.
Heyward Historical Center
52 Boundary Street
Programs on the history, architecture, and culture of Bluffton are offered at this historical home in old town Bluffton.
The Heyward House is one of eight antebellum homes in the town and is the only one open for touring.
The well-preserved house with its original slave cabin and summer kitchen is an Official Project of the Save America’s Treasures Program, a public-private partnership between the White House Millennium Council and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Bluffton Oyster Company
63 Wharf Street
The oldest operating oyster shucking facility in the state.
Rose Hill Mansion
This striking, 1858 Gothic Revival home has served as a backdrop to the many faces and lives in the fascinating history of South Carolina’s Lowcountry. Available for special events and weddings.
Bluffton Bike Trails
Take the family on a fun and historic bike ride through old town Bluffton.