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A Brief History of Bluffton

Posted by John Friday on Monday, January 27th, 2020 at 2:24pm.

Part of the allure of living in Bluffton, South Carolina is being a part of a town that has so much history.

Nuggets of this past can be found all over town, in everything from ancient oak trees to wooden churches.

Discover the heart of the city with this brief history of Bluffton:

A City on the Rise

The area has a history that spans thousands of years. Bluffton was first established in 1825 when settlers inhabited the land on top of the river bluffs that overlook the May River.

Bluffton was a small vacation town where cotton and rice planters could escape the harsh conditions of the plantations.

Working in these plantations was unpleasant to say the least. The land was rife with mosquitos carrying yellow fever and malaria that oftentimes infected the workers. The plantations were also hot, making them extremely uncomfortable places to work and live during the summer months.

With its outstanding beauty and high location on the bluffs, Bluffton was a seasonal sanctuary. And as the town became more and more popular, businesses began popping up in and around town.

Soon enough, Bluffton was a significant center for commerce where crops and materials were distributed to ports around the world. This boom in business attracted year-round residents, which eventually led to the town’s incorporation in 1852.

Bluffton in the Civil War

Even though Bluffton was still finding its footing as a new city, it was a major site at the start of the secession. In 1844, some of the first cries of secession were voiced in Bluffton under a large oak tree that’s now known as the Secession Oak.

16 years after these first debates in Bluffton, South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union.

When the Civil War broke out, the city was completely deserted by its permanent residents and then occupied by confederate pickets that observed the Union troop movements.

By 1863, 75% of the original town of Bluffton was burned and demolished, leaving only a few of its original buildings. Out of these buildings is the Church of the Cross and the Rose Hill Plantation House. They are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Post Civil War Highs & Lows

With the majority of the city gone, residents and town people slowly rebuilt the community they once knew and loved.

In time, the city saw a growth in business, especially with the introduction of several hardware and dry good stores. Much of the city’s economy, though, was held by the oyster harvesting business, giving tons of workers coastal professions.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, most people still travelled to and from the town by boat. This popular mode of transportation allowed the city to thrive in coastal industries, like fishing and boat building.

This all changed in the late 1920s when the US-17 was built. This made Bluffton accessible by car, which, in theory, should have supported the city’s economy. But it did the opposite.

The area saw a drop in its ocean-side industries and many people lost their jobs.

Bluffton As We Know It

Over the past 60 years, Bluffton has regained a strong economy and has attracted full-time residents from far and wide. Today, it’s one of the fastest growing cities in the whole of South Carolina.

The city is still known as a popular vacation destination where tourists can find beautiful beaches and world-class golf courses.

Oldtown Bluffton still holds the city’s history in its lowcountry architecture and mature oak trees that are draped with moss. Wandering down this city center you’ll find quaint coffee shops and boutique stores that are sure to give you the small town vibe that have come to define the town.

Many people choose to move to Bluffton because of its fantastic selection of real estate. The community has a wide variety of properties on the market, from low maintenance condos to heritage homes.

Tons of home buyers are attracted to all of the master-planned communities located in and around Bluffton. Neighborhoods like May River Preserve and Hilton Head Lakes offer residents long lists of amenities, like golf courses, swimming pools, and fitness centers.

These communities make every day feel like a vacation.

With such a rich history and beautiful town center, there’s so much to love about Bluffton, South Carolina. If you’re thinking of moving to this wonderful city, contact us online today or call 1-843-785-9500!  We're your local guide to everything real estate.

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