Thursday, January 26, 2012

Beaufort, SC- Our New Hometown

I'm sure to be named the next Miss Beaufort after this post... She looks just like me!
Our South Carolina home may be on Fripp Island, but Beaufort is our hometown.  Just 25 minutes from Fripp, we come to town to stroll the streets, talk to folks, shop, dine, pray, and generally catch up with what’s happening in the world.  Rarely have I felt so at home so I thought I would give my readers a little tour of our new hometown.
Beaufort's Waterfront Park
Located directly on the Beaufort River in South Carolina's Low Country, Downtown Beaufort consists of The Old Point and the Shopping District.  

The Castle - One of Beaufort's Finest (For Sale... only 3.9 million!)
The front live oak is estimated at 1000 years old.
The Old Point neighborhood contains many Antebellum homes thanks to the Union choosing to occupy Beaufort instead of destroying it like many other Southern towns during the Civil War.  As a result, Beaufort is one of the few US cities to have its entire downtown area designated as a historic landmark. (See my earlier post on Halloween in the Old Point.)

One of the cannons that unsuccessfully
defended Beaufort from the yankees.
History Break:  

South Carolina was the first to secede from the United States and the first to fight.  The American Civil War began when the Confederates fired cannons on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina on April 12, 1861.  

After a summer of fighting and significant Confederate victories at the Battle of Bull Run and the First Battle of Lexington, Union forces began their Southern Blockade by capturing Port Royal Island and the City of Beaufort in November of 1861.  With the papers for secession drawn up in Beaufort, the city had always been a top target for the Union, but its location made it a strategically important stronghold for the US Navy's coastal blockade preventing European assistance to the Confederacy.  Luckily, the Union soldiers used the homes of Beaufort as barracks, hospitals and offices, thereby, preserving them for future generations to use, love and enjoy.  

Also during the Civil War, Harriet Tubman ran several spy missions  and risked her life to secure the freedom of many slaves around Beaufort.  The first school for former slaves was established in 1862 at Penn Center on nearby St. Helena's Island. Beaufort born slave, Robert Smalls commandeered a Confederate ship in Charleston Harbor and sailed it for the Union for the remainder of the war as Captain.  He returned to Beaufort and was elected to the US Congress for five terms.

Verdier House is the only home open daily for tours.
Today, most of the homes in historic Beaufort are privately owned with the few exceptions of the Rhett House Innthe Cuthbert House Inn and the Verdier House owned and open for tours by the Historic Beaufort Foundation.  

Don't miss the Fall Festival
of Houses and Gardens for
your one chance to see
inside these incredible homes!
Some homes of The Old Point open their doors to visitors during the Fall Festival of Houses and Gardens Tour on the third weekend in October.  This event  offers a rare view of how these historic homes have been preserved and modernized for our lives today.  I also recommend the Carriage Tour for a relaxing yet informative tour of the streets of Beaufort.

Bay Street

Downtown shopping consists of a five block square area offering fine to casual dining, formal to beach clothing, art to antiques home decor, souvenirs, jewelry, banking and my favorite public library.   We prefer the beach life on Fripp Island for overnight stays, but there are many lovely Inns and B & Bs in Downtown Beaufort.

For good food and an incredible view, the Bay Street restaurants are hard to beat.  They have the best of both worlds by fronting the main street and backing up to the beautiful Beaufort River and the newly renovated River Park.  Plums restaurant offers sandwiches with a southern flare, cocktails and sweet tea.  Luther’s Rare and Well Done has burgers and wings that can’t be beat and Q on Bay masters Carolina barbecue.  All three restaurants have indoor dining, but I prefer sitting outside along the river park.  Perfect for families, the deck allows parents to relax and enjoy their meals while the kids (who eat in less than five minutes) can run and frolic in the park to their heart’s content.  We like to follow up our play with a stop at The Lollipop Shop (if the kids have been on their best behavior, of course.)
Emma's favorite spot in town.
For Finer Food, I recommend Saltus on the River with its sublime seafood dishes and fireside dining by Waterfront Park and Emily's on Port Republic for terrific tapas.  The Tooting Egret by the library serves the best lamb burger as one choice on their fixed price Sunday brunch.  You may have to wait for a table, but shopping in their home store while smelling the fresh local food as it cooks is part of the fun.

As for shopping, be sure to check out the local art scene from contemporary to Gullah in the eleven art galleries of Downtown Beaufort.  There is a great arts and crafts community here and extremely helpful folks at Coastal Knitting and Coastal Art Supply for those of us new to the arts and crafts world.  For clothing, I love Bay Street Outfitters and Beaufort Clothing Company.  Both offer genteel clothing for any season.  Also, our family always enjoys strolling through Lulu's eclectic collection of gifts on Bay Street never knowing what we'll find, but usually seeing something that makes us smile.  Whether buying or just looking, I can spend hours wandering the streets of Beaufort.

Last year, Beaufort celebrated its 300th anniversary.  St. Helena's Episcopal Church is celebrating its 300th anniversary in 2012 having been established just months after the founding of the city.  This beautiful church and cemetery is open daily for free tours guided by its members.
St. Helena Episcopal Church established 1712

Hope you enjoyed my wordy stroll through Beaufort.  Come to the Low Country and let it be your new hometown, too!
A Low Country sunset can't be beat!

1 comment:

  1. I am so happy for you guys, but so jealous! Love ya and stay safe. Love Tina-Ball Ground ES


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