Beaufort’s storied past told through architecture and gardens in HBF’s popular Fall Festival of Houses and Gardens, Oct. 21-22

Some of Beaufort’s most historic and gracious homes and properties will be opened Oct. 21-22 for the popular Historic Beaufort Foundation Fall Festival of Houses and Gardens.

Tickets are available online at Organizers encourage early ticket purchases because these tours typically sell out, attracting visitors from across the country.

“Beaufort is fortunate to have property owners so willing to open their houses and gardens for public viewing like this,” said Cynthia Jenkins, executive director of Historic Beaufort Foundation. “Each year we have a wonderful mix of Lowcountry residents on the tour along with people from across the Southeast and even the country who want to experience this treat.”

The Saturday tour will lead visitors through an historic and architectural timeline dating from the 19th century and into the economic recovery of the early 20th Century.  

Berners Barnwell Sams House #1, ca. 1818

The original land grant for this property was made in 1764 to William DeVeaux, a Colonial-era planter and owner of Shaftsbury Plantation along the Savannah River. It was the first house built in town by Dr. Berners Barnwell Sams (1787-1855), a successful planter.

Originally a Federal style I-House, the structure faces South towards the river, away from the street. One of the earliest remaining features are the quoins on the east and west corners of the house; the B.B. Sams House #1 has the only example of this architectural detail in Beaufort. When renovated in the 1840s it took on a Greek Revival appearance with a Beaufort Style T-Plan and the addition of the two-story piazza with Doric-style piers.

The Josiah Knowles House, ca. 1878

This house was built around 1878 by Beaufort natives and freedmen Josiah Knowles and Cecelia Hamilton Knowles in a simple Beaufort Style with two identical rooms upstairs and downstairs with a central hall and staircase. Josiah served during the Civil War in the 33rd Regiment, US Colored Infantry, and became a shoemaker after he was discharged. The Knowles’s daughter, Henny Knowles, was lauded as Beaufort’s oldest citizen, passing away at age 104 in 1979. After Ms. Knowles’ death, the house fell into a state of disrepair and was sold out of the family in 1984.

A series of owners after Ms. Knowles did some work on the house, but it was not until it was purchased by Lois and Michael O’Brien in 2000 that a major restoration was done. Another renovation was undertaken by the current owner after she purchased the dwelling in 2016. The staircase with its balusters and newel post are also original to the house, along with the glass in the 9-over-9 lite windows in the four main rooms. The fireplace mantel in the master bedroom is also original to the house.

First African Baptist Church, ca. 1865, 1886

An early, simple Praise House once stood next door to this church in the open field to the north. A Baptist congregation made up of newly-freed slaves formed here in 1865 led by Rev. Arthur Waddell of Savannah. They eventually outgrew the Praise House and constructed the current church in 1886. Upon completion, the local newspaper noted that it was the first church in Beaufort built and paid for by an entirely Black congregation. Many prominent African American Beaufortonians attended this church, including Julius I. Washington and Robert Smalls, whose second marriage and funeral took place within its walls.

In 2007, the exterior of the church was restored to its Gothic Revival appearance and received the Historic Preservation Honor Award from the Palmetto Trust.

The William Henry Trescot House, ca. 1860, 1876, 1975

William Henry Trescot built this house on Barnwell Island in the Whale Branch River north of Beaufort shortly before the Civil War. A diplomat and historian, Trescot served as Secretary of Legation at London from 1852 to 1854 and was appointed assistant Secretary of State by President James Buchanan in 1860. In 1876, the Honorable William Elliott purchased and dismantled the house, brought it by boat to Beaufort, and erected it at 1011 Bay Street on the lot just west of to the George Parsons Elliott House,

Built in the Greek Revival style with typical Beaufort Style details including T-shape wings, the front façade is dominated by a two-story piazza, four bays wide, with each bay being a door allowing access onto the verandah. In the mid-1970s, Historic Beaufort Foundation was instrumental in saving the Trescot House from demolition by the Bank of Beaufort, which planned to build a new office between the Sea Island Motel and the George Parsons Elliott House. In 1975, HBF negotiated to have the structure relocated within Beaufort’s historic district to its current location. It was then restored by the Jack Treanor family.

The James Albert Kinghorn House, ca. 1909

This lot was previously occupied by a dwelling that burned in the Great Fire of 1907. Soon after, James Albert Kinghorn purchased the property and constructed this Neoclassic Period house in 1909. The Kinghorn family retained ownership of the house for nearly 50 years until it was sold to Richard and Elizabeth Miller.

The Millers sold the house to Peggy Conroy, mother of famed author Pat Conroy, who lived here until the early 1980s. Mrs. Conroy sold the house to Dr. Charlton Ogburn, author and noted Shakespearean authority. The house underwent a significant renovation in the late 1990s which included redoing plaster walls, adding trim, rebuilding the porches, and replacing the roof. Original elements which had been removed such as the pantry and second-story doorway configurations were returned. The staircase and bedroom mantles are original to the house. The brick walkways were reclaimed after they were discovered during removal of the concrete parking pads. The current owners acquired the home in 2016.

 Joseph Hazel House, ca. 1815, ca.1840

This two-story, five-bay wide frame house faces south atop nine-foot-tall brick piers. Originally one room deep on open brick piers with its two-story pedimented portico, the structure was added to in the mid-1800s and took on a later Federal Style appearance. The ground floor was enclosed while a two-story shed-style north addition and a parapet along the top of the two-story southern portico were also added at this time.

During the antebellum period, the house was occupied by Joseph Hazel, a successful Sea Island cotton planter who owned Hazel Farm and Distant Island. The house, along with the Dr. Joseph Johnson House (The Castle) between Federal and Craven Street, became Union Hospital #6 during the Civil War. Redeemed from the Federal government after the war, the property remained in the Hazel family until the death of Joseph Hazel’s granddaughter in 1936.

George Mosse Stoney House, ca.1790, ca.1840

The John Campbell painting of Beaufort in 1798 shows an early Federal style house, one room deep, on this property facing the Beaufort River. Dr. George Mosse Stoney (1795-1854), a physician and Hilton Head Island planter, is believed to have remodeled the dwelling into a Federal Period style circa 1840 by adding a pedimented two-stage portico to the south elevation and rooms on the north elevation to create the classic T-shaped Beaufort Style house.

Seized by the U.S. Direct Tax Commissioners during the Civil War, in 1869 the property was sold to Anna Pollitzer, wife of Moritz Pollitzer. A native of Austria, Mr. Pollitzer came to Beaufort during the Civil War from New York and established himself as a cotton merchant, later being elected Mayor of Beaufort. The property stayed in the Pollitzer family for five generations and served as the childhood home of another Beaufort mayor, the late Henry C. Chambers, a Pollitzer descendant.

The John Mark Verdier House, ca.1804

This prominent Federal style house, built by John Mark Verdier, displays exceptional architectural detailing and is one of the few remaining residential buildings on Beaufort’s commercial Bay Street. Symmetrical and in perfect balance, the house exhibits an incomparable archway in the central hall that is supported by Corinthian columns. Adam-style mantles and elaborate cornices adorn the principal entertaining rooms, including the second-floor drawing room and ballroom.

Thanks to the efforts of local citizens the house was saved, which led to the creation of the Historic Beaufort Foundation in 1965. The house was restored and opened to the public in 1975 and today is the only historic house museum in northern Beaufort County. Over six decades, the Foundation has continued its stewardship of the house.

Tickets for the Saturday, Oct. 21 tour are $65 for HBF members and $75 for non-members. The tour is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Sunday’s tour and Southern brunch will showcase a 15-acre farmstead and former plantation nestled among pecan trees and mature live oaks less than half a mile from one of Beaufort’s busiest intersections.

Although Pick Pocket has enjoyed a lengthy agricultural history, it is especially significant for its contribution to the history of Beaufort’s truck farming industry which experienced a boom of prosperity in the early 20th century. What was once a thriving farm far from downtown Beaufort, Pick Pocket now sits in the midst of an urban environment.

The imposing two-story frame dwelling, which sits adjacent to the old Port Royal Railroad line (now the Spanish Moss Trail), is believed to have been constructed circa 1905, during the ownership of Charles K. Batchelder of Vermont. George W. Trask of Wilmington, NC purchased Pick Pocket in 1912, and his family went on to acquire vast parcels of Lowcountry land for farming and investment. Neil and Becky Trask were the last of the family to reside here.

Today the home features two-story front and rear porches with farm vistas, now comprising over 15 acres and many outbuildings, some of which were relocated from other sites. The owner received the Howard Danner Lifetime Achievement Award from HBF in 2008 for the restoration of Pick Pocket.

Tickets to the Sunday event are $130 for members and $150 for non-members of HBF. The Sunday brunch and tour are from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

All sales are final and the tours will be held rain or shine. The tours are sponsored by Modern Jewelers, Beaufort Carts, Montgomery Architecture & Planning, Gilbert Law Firm, Lowcountry Real Estate, Beaufort Air Conditioning, Berkshire Hathaway, and HomeFinders.

Historic Beaufort Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit education foundation created to preserve, protect, and present sites and artifacts of historic, architectural, and cultural interest throughout Beaufort County, South Carolina. For more information on the entity’s mission and history, please visit and follow them on social media, including Facebook and Instagram.