HBF opens tickets for Spring Architects’ Tour May 18

March 1, 2023

Media contact: Lise Sundrla, Historic Beaufort Foundation at 843.379.3331 or by email to info@historicbeaufort.org

Photos: Exteriors and interior samples from homes on the Spring Architects’ Tour May 18

 HBF opens tickets for Spring Architects’ Tour May 18

Historic Beaufort Foundation is preparing for its annual Spring Architects’ Tour, set for Saturday, May 18, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with tours of houses in and around Beaufort.

This year’s tour features three of the Lowcountry’s most accomplished architectural firms – Frederick & Frederick Architects, Hefner Residential Architecture and Montgomery Architecture & Planning. The 2023 tour features contemporary homes that appeal to all generations wanting to experience Beaufort’s unique Lowcountry setting and style.

“Interpreting Beaufort’s architectural heritage in a 21st century style, the Spring Architects’ Tour gives the rare opportunity to peek inside the newest and best of Beaufort’s residential architecture,” said Cynthia Jenkins, Historic Beaufort Foundation’s Executive Director.

Advanced reservations are strongly recommended as this popular event tends to fill up quickly. Tickets are $60 for HBF members and $65 for non-members and may be purchased by calling HBF at 843-379-3331 or going online to www.historicbeaufort.org

Sponsored by Gilbert Law Firm, Beaufort Carts, J.H. Hiers Construction, Broad River

Construction, Phifer Contracting, Howell Builders, The Meridian Company and Powell Brothers Construction the tour represents the best in creative and contemporary Lowcountry residential architecture.

The Saturday tour will take visitors through five houses with examples of both modern and traditional contemporary architecture that appeals to all generations wanting to experience Beaufort’s unique Lowcountry setting and style. Throughout the tour, homeowners, architects, interior designers, builders and contractors will be on site to provide information and answer questions.

This year’s properties are located on Spanish Point, Islands of Beaufort, Cane Island, Lady’s Island and Distant Island.

2023 Architects’ Tour Properties

 Distant Island

Architect: Montgomery Architecture & Planning

Builder: Chuck Ferguson, The Meridian Company

Landscape Architect: Leah Bell

Located on a beautiful south-facing property overlooking Distant Island Creek, this new home was designed for clients who have a love for the water. A central vaulted living area overlooks the creek and allows southern light to fill the home throughout the day.

Although a primary goal for the owners was to downsize, a baby-grand piano is none the less a central feature of the home, nestled into the entry stair hall where it can be enjoyed. A detached garage with living quarters and home gym above flanks a central motor court.

Spanish Point

Architect: Montgomery Architecture & Planning

Builder: Owner built

Interior Designer:  Jennifer Ferrell, Riverside Designers

Landscape Architect: Daniel Keefer, Whitmore Jones Keefer

Located on a beautiful bluff overlooking the Beaufort River, this new home was designed for owners who have a deep appreciation of the South Carolina Lowcountry. Old growth cypress is featured throughout both buildings: the Main House with porches and pool terrace that take in sweeping vistas of Historic Beaufort and the Woods Bridge; and the River House, an accessory building with workshop and guest accommodations.

On this north facing property, a grand Stair Hall allows southern light to flood the core of the home throughout the day. All the primary living spaces are closely tied to the grounds and waterfront with a series of porches, terraces, and a covered pavilion which anchors the pool under two grand live oaks.

Cane Island

Architect: Frederick + Frederick Architects

Builder: Broad River Construction and Phifer Contracting Services

Interiors: Frederick + Frederick Architects

Included on our 2021 Spring Architects’ Tour while still under construction, this newly completed house sits on a bank above the Intracoastal waterway with a view to the southwest. The concept was to design a sustainable, resilient building that is a contemporary interpretation of the local vernacular houses. It serves as an example of how an environmentally focused design connects people to places in a hot, humid climate.

The family connects to the rhythms of nature by watching the sunset move sixty degrees between the summer solstice and winter solstice, seeing the twice daily tide change of seven to eight feet and hearing the sound of the water lapping on the beach.

This is a gathering place, a place to share time, to relax. A home-base from which to enjoy the pleasures of the Lowcountry: sailing, boating, fishing, golf. It’s luxurious and stylish; and it’s resilient and energy efficient. It’s a home built for hosting the whole family for the holidays and for enjoying a quiet, intimate moment as the sun sets over the marsh and river.

Islands of Beaufort

Architect: Frederick + Frederick Architects

Builder: Powell Brothers

A beautifully proportioned, modern interpretation of the dogtrot. The central space of the home (or dogtrot space) is the living, dining, kitchen and outdoor living spaces that have large windows and double doors to let the breeze funnel through. A big fireplace enters in the symmetrical vaulted space and has flanking glass doors that join the indoor and outdoor living spaces.

Lady’s Island

Architect:  Hefner Residential Architecture

Builder: Mitchell Brothers Construction

Interiors:  Elizabeth Newberry Interiors, and Elizabeth O’Herron Interiors

This 4,000 square-foot home reflects its largely wooded surroundings with its one-story expansive floor plan with pine floorboards throughout. Beautifully landscaped, the house focuses its occupants on multiple views of the property and the Coosaw River. The land and views are protected by the Beaufort County Open Land Trust.

HBF has prioritized tour participants’ and safety during the event. Per homeowner requests, masks may be required when inside the properties. Children under 13 are not allowed to tour the homes. Pets are prohibited on the tour and at tour sites.

Tickets are available online at www.historicbeaufort.org; by phone go 843.379.3331 or the day of the event at Tour Headquarters at the Arsenal, 713 Craven Street from 9AM to Noon. This is a self-driven tour. Tour sites and routes will be provided at check-in the day of the tour.

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 historicbeaufort.org and follow them on social media, including Facebook and Instagram.



Purchase Tickets


Opportunity to Speak Up


Almost two years ago, the National Park Service (NPS) embarked on a Conditions and Integrity Study of Beaufort’s National Historic Landmark DIstrict with the intent of assessing the district’s current condition, recognizing local preservation successes, identifying key threats and proposing guidance to ensure the “Integrity” of the historic district is retained. 

The Park Service announced this past week that the preliminary study is available for review and is offering a process for online comments to gain public input before finalizing the report. DEADLINE FOR PROVIDING PUBLIC COMMENT IS MARCH 11, 2023.

The Report identifies the following challenges that if not addressed threaten the integrity of our National Historic Landmark District. (PAGE 89 OF THE REPORT)

  • Visual Compatibility – there is concern regarding the visual compatibility of new buildings that is rooted in the enforcement and interpretation of adopted design review standards!
  • Adoption of a Form-Based Code – The new code has led to incompatible infill and – at times – conflicts with historic preservation ordinances as well as other ordinances and has resulted in a LOSS OF INTEGRITY OF SETTING, DESIGN & MATERIALS.
  • Other City Ordinance and Policies Require Revision – Ordinances and policies as currently written do not always contribute to the District’s integrity and preservation.
  • Loss of Integrity of Association – Specific areas within the NHL district have lost the integrity of Association. This is particularly true of the historically African American Northwest Quadrant neighborhood.
  • Demolitions and Infill Construction – has led to a shift in development patterns that is not always appropriate.
  • Right of Way Easements – controlled by the South Carolina Department of Transportation and Dominion Energy have incurred negative effects to the NHL, particularly in the Northwest Quadrant neighborhood.
  • Large-Scale Community Development Projects – The District’s Integrity of Location and Setting has been eroded by large scale projects.

Most importantly, the Report recognizes the importance that our  “ordinances promote and require infill construction that is visually compatible, with the greatest emphasis placed on form, mass and scale. New buildings that are substantially taller and wider than their surrounding neighbors or have significantly more lot coverage than those within the immediate context, are incompatible and a DETRIMENT TO THE OVERALL INTEGRITY OF SETTING WITHIN THE BNHLD.”

The Report further recognizes that “While one intrusion may be damaging, multiple instances of weak standards, variances, and other inappropriate alterations can lead to cumulative damage and an irreparable loss of integrity.”

The Park Service has suggested 4 Topic Questions to be addressed. While all 4 are important we believe that #2 that addresses proposed development plans is the most important to the preservation of Beaufort. A link to the online comment page and report is below.


The NPS is providing a process for online comment through March 11, 2023.  You may review the report and respond with your online comments by clicking the link below.PLEASE SPEAK UP FOR THE INTEGRITY OF OUR NATIONAL HISTORIC LANDMARK DISTRICT AND OUR QUALITY OF LIFE!

 ParkPlanning – For Public Review: Beaufort NHL Integrity and Condition Study (nps.gov)

State judge sides with Historic Beaufort Foundation in easement debate over Robert Smalls House

Continued efforts to protect and preserve the historic McKee-Smalls home where South Carolina hero Robert Smalls lived in downtown Beaufort earned major court victories in January.

South Carolina Circuit Court Judge Courtney Clyburn Pope agreed with Historic Beaufort Foundation that its preservation and conservation easement on the McKee-Smalls House at 511 Prince Street clearly limits public access and restricts the property to residential use only.

Judge Clyburn Pope also dismissed Billy Keyserling and Paul Keyserling’s motion for a summary judgment in the same case. The Keyserling brothers bought the historic house in 2021 for $1.675 million after signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Their agreement basically called for the National Trust to raise money to buy the house from the Keyserlings while operating regular tours of the house.

The Keyserlings agreed to provide the National Park Service with access to the McKee-Smalls House for public tours and to explore renting the property to the National Park Service or its staff for residential use. The judge noted there wasn’t any evidence of an agreement for the Keyserlings, National Trust or National Park Service intended use of the property for residential purposes as required by the easement.

The Conservation and Preservation Easement of the McKee-Smalls House protects the exterior architectural integrity of the house and grounds as well as ensuring the house remains a private residence while allowing some public access, according to the easement terms and the intentions of the easement donor.

“Judge Clyburn Pope examined the evidence before her, primarily the easement that the Keyserlings entered into when they bought the property, and she found that the rule of law supports our position and the clear language of the easement,” said Wayne Vance, Chair of Historic Beaufort Foundation.

“This is an important ruling not only to preserve the McKee-Smalls house but also to protect the integrity of the Historic District,” Vance said.

The house has been a private residence since it was constructed, but the Keyserlings attempted to change that by opening the residence to tour groups on a regular, sometimes daily, basis – in violation of the property easement.

Robert Smalls was born into slavery in Beaufort County, became a Civil War hero, was elected to US Congress and in his later years served as Collector of the Port of Beaufort. His offices were in what is now known as the Thomas Law building but was then the Customs House (920 Bay Street) in downtown Beaufort.

David and Marilyn Atwell donated the property easement to HBF in 2002 to “assist in preserving and maintaining the premises and its architectural, historical and cultural features,” according to the legal document, and to ensure that the home would be used only as a residence.

For 20 years, and each time the McKee-Smalls house has been sold, that easement is part of the deed. When a property encumbered by an easement is sold, real estate agents are obligated to fully explain the meaning of the restrictions to the new buyer. Easements are recorded with the deed and protect the property forever, HBF Executive Director Cynthia Jenkins said.

The easement addresses only the exterior of the property and the grounds at 511 Prince Street in Beaufort’s National Historic Landmark District. The interior has seen extensive updating over the past decades. HBF would accept an interior easement to further protect the property.

The U.S. Secretary of the Interior’s Standards are the guiding principles for maintaining the integrity and significance of historic buildings. The first of the 10 Standards states that buildings should be used for their original purpose as much as possible – in this case, a private home.

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 historicbeaufort.org and follow them on social media, including Facebook and Instagram.









Early registration encouraged for Historic Beaufort Foundation’s “Junior Building Detectives” summer camp 

Jan. 27, 2023

Media contact: Cassandra Knoppel, Historic Beaufort Foundation, 843-379-3331 or info@historicbeaufort.org

Early registration encouraged for Historic Beaufort Foundation’s “Junior Building Detectives” summer camp

A popular half-day summer camp for children ages 8-12 returns June 26-28 when Historic Beaufort Foundation presents “Junior Building Detectives,” focusing on camp participants solving the mysteries of history by learning about local architecture.

The camp will be daily from 9:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. and early registration is recommended because of space limitations.

The summer camp, hosted in Bay Street’s historic John Mark Verdier House which dates to about 1804, will teach campers the basics of historic architecture and preservation. Campers will learn how buildings change over time, the meaning behind architectural features, and the connection of historic buildings to our community.

They’ll do this through hands-on activities, walks around downtown Beaufort, arts-and-crafts projects, experiments in building science, and more. At the end of the program, campers will participate in creating a building and presenting their design to the class and parents/guardians.

Registration: Early registration is advisable as space is limited. The camp is $100 for Historic Beaufort Foundation members and $125 for non-members. Registration may be completed by calling HBF at 843-379-3331 or going online to https://historicbeaufort.org  on or after Feb. 6.


HBF 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 historicbeaufort.org and follow them on social media, including Facebook and Instagram.



Historic silver cup from 1748 coming to Beaufort and Historic Beaufort Foundation

Historic silver cup from 1748 coming to Beaufort and Historic Beaufort Foundation


Historic Beaufort Foundation successfully bid on an historic silver cup and cap from 1748 presented by “the Gentlemen of Port Royal” to Captain Joseph Hamar, commander of His Majesty’s ship Adventure, for protective services around Beaufort and Port Royal.

The 13.5-inch silver cup and cap, created by Thomas Heming of London, sold through Sotheby’s auction house on Jan. 23. Colonists from South Carolina commissioned the silver cup less than 40 years before the American Revolution. Heming became Principal Goldsmith to King George III in 1760.

Sotheby’s experts said the Heming cup and cover “is among the earliest and most sophisticated examples of rococo silver which can be linked to the American Colonies.” 

Historic Beaufort Foundation bid on the silver cup in partnership with a number of donors who contributed to a special fund for the purchase, said Cynthia Jenkins, HBF executive director.

“This is an incredible piece of local history with direct connections that opened Port Royal and Beaufort to economic stability,” Jenkins said. “Captain Hamar and his ship Adventure protected Port Royal harbor during King George’s War of 1744-48 when French and Spanish privateers were attacking shipping along the South Carolina and Georgia coasts.

Wayne Vance, chair of the Historic Beaufort Foundation Board of Trustees, applauded the purchase. “This is an exceptional accomplishment, to bring home to Port Royal Island the original silver cup from 1748 that meant so much to our young town 274 years ago,” he said. “To secure the actual antique cup, not a reproduction, and to eventually make it accessible to our public, is remarkable. We want to thank everyone who contributed to make this possible.”

According to noted South Carolina historian Dr. Lawrence Rowland, who is one of three experts participating in HBF’s ongoing lecture series this month and February (details at www.historicbeaufort.org ) the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in October, 1748 ended King George’s War (also known as the War of Jenkins’ Ear) and the Anglo-Spanish dispute over Georgia. 

The stability and economic benefits brought by Royal Navy ships helped establish Beaufort and Port Royal as centers for commercial shipping and were recognized by the local “gentlemen” with the silver cup gift to the captain of the Adventure

Hamar left the Adventure in 1749 and served briefly as Captain of the 60-gun Eagle in 1755. He retired from British service in 1758 and died in 1773, just before the American Revolution. Two streets within Beaufort’s National Historic Landmark district, Hamar and Adventure, were named in honor of the 1748 heroics, and Captain Hamar was gifted two lots on the street of his name.

There are few comparable items to this cup, Sotheby’s said. They include a pair of dragon-handled sauce boats, attributed to Frederick Kandler, which were owned by William Middleton of South Carolina in the late 1740s (Philadelphia Museum), and the Franks family silver, mostly by Paul de Lamerie, supplied to that family in Philadelphia in the mid-1740s (Metropolitan Museum of Art), Sotheby’s noted.

Heming began his apprenticeship in London in 1738, training under Peter Archambo. He entered his mark as largeworker in June 1745, with an address in Piccadilly, the center of London. The South Carolina cup represents his very early work, well before he was named Principal Goldsmith to King George III in 1760, Sotheby’s said.

“To see this item come up for auction, with its direct and historic ties to Beaufort and Port Royal, really was a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Vance said.

The item was listed by Sotheby’s as a “George II Silver Presentation Cup and Cover of South Carolina Interest, Thomas Heming, London, dated 1748 … of double-bellied rococo form, the scroll-edged foot case with trailing grapevine, continuing up the body and extended by engraved representations, flanking two rococo cartouches engraved with contemporary arms and presentation inscription, matching cover with crest and motto below grape cluster finial, scroll handles topped by caryatids of a bacchante and a satyr with grape cluster and pan pipes, marked under foot with lion passant, leopard’s head crowned, and maker’s mark twice, one obscuring another mark.”

The inscription reads:

The Gentlemen of Port Royal

So: Carolina

Present this Plate to Captn: Hamar

Comdr: of his Majts Ship Adventure. in

Gratefull Acknowledgment of his Services

Done to this Port in ye Year 1748

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 historicbeaufort.org and follow them on social media, including Facebook and Instagram.



Woods Memorial Bridge now on National Register of Historic Places

BEAUFORT, S.C. – The Woods Memorial Bridge, the iconic swing bridge connecting downtown Beaufort with Lady’s Island, was listed on theNational Register of Historic Places on Jan. 6.

The designation gives the community an opportunity to protect the bridge and potential impacts on Beaufort’s National Historic Landmark District. With the designation, any federal undertaking regarding  licensing, permitting, or funding requires a mitigating review by the State Historic Preservation Office and also requires public comment. 

“This designation is important for our City,” said Mayor Stephen Murray. “With so few working swing bridges in the state, we need to protect the ones we have. The Woods Memorial Bridge adds to Beaufort’s character, distinction and beauty, and the National Register listing recognizes that.”

“Historic Beaufort Foundation is grateful to the City of Beaufort for working toward this official recognition of the significance the Woods Bridge plays in helping Beaufort retain its unique sense of place and its association with our maritime and transportation history,” said HBF Executive Director Cynthia Cole Jenkins. “We value the six decades of partnership with the City in protecting and promoting the architectural history of Beaufort.”

The effort to win the designation began in October of 2020. It was a joint project of the City of Beaufort, under the leadership of then-Mayor Billy Keyserling, and Historic Beaufort Foundation.

The City and HBF launched a fund-raising campaign through the City’s Pride of Place Program to hire a professional preservation consultant to put together the research and paperwork necessary for the application to the National Register.

Upon learning of the listing, the consultant, Kyle Campbell of Preservation South, LLC, said, “The Woods Memorial Bridge is one of the historic resources in Beaufort that almost everyone interacts with whether they are a resident or a tourist. It has been an honor to research and prepare the National Register nomination and I hope it will continue to be a landmark for the Beaufort Community for generations to come.” 

The Woods Memorial Bridge is now one of five bridges in South Carolina listed on the National Register. The others are in Greenville, Horry, and Richland counties.

The bridge opened in 1959, replacing a swing bridge built in 1927. Originally known as the Lady’s Island Bridge, it was renamed in 1971 in honor of Richard V. Woods, a local South Carolina Highway Patrol trooper killed in the line of duty.

The bridge’s center span pivots open horizontally on a regular basis to allow boat traffic on the Intracoastal Waterway to pass through. In 2022, the bridge opened 1,659 times to allow commercial and private vessels to pass through. That ranged from a low in September of 70 to a high in November of 269. Traffic data for 2022 is not yet final but in 2021, the bridge averaged 13,700 vehicle crossings a day.

The application process, which included researching not only the history but the engineering significance of the bridge, began over a year ago. It was reviewed by the staff of the  State Historic Preservation Office, and then moved to the State Board of Review, comprising preservation, history, and planning experts. The State Board of Review approved it in November 2022. The application was then submitted to the National Park Service, which oversees the National Register, for final vetting.

In order to be listed on the National Register, a site must meet seven aspects of “integrity” to achieve a listing: location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association. The structure must be at least 50 years old, and possess some significance in American history and culture. The Woods Memorial Bridge was immortalized in the 1994 Best Picture, Forrest Gump. In one of the most famous scenes a bearded Tom Hanks as Forrest is shown running across a Mississippi River bridge, but in actuality, the scene was filmed on the Woods Memorial Bridge.

South Carolina offers events tied to 250th celebration of American Revolution

Although the 250th celebration of the American Revolution isn’t until 2026, South Carolina historians are helping set the stage with a series of events this year, including the Fourth Annual American Revolution Symposium Nov. 19 in Columbia.
Sponsored by the S.C. Archives and History Foundation, the all-day event features lectures, workshops and exhibits, including:

• Rick Wise speaking about General Thomas Sumter’s and General Francis Marion’s Rounds and Bridges Campaigns
• Randell Jones on The Gathering— the Route of Col. James Williams and South Carolina Militia for the Battle of Kings Mountain
• John Beakes speaking on William Campbell in the American Revolution, Commander of Riflemen at Kings Mountain and Guilford Courthouse
• Doug Bostick providing an update on the Liberty Trail
• Bill Davies speaking about plans for South Carolina’s 250th Commission celebrations
• Rev. Paul Wood on “A Search for the Truth Underlying Dicey Langston’s Stories of Heroism.”

In 2016, Congress passed the United States Semiquincentennial Commission Act to coordinate activities for the 250th commemoration of the history and founding of the United States and events of the American Revolution.
Historic Beaufort Foundation is sharing information about the 250th celebration of the American Revolution for a number of reasons, including the Battle of Port Royal Island in 1779 near Beaufort as well as several of Beaufort’s oldest historic homes date to the late 1700s. Beaufort was chartered in 1711.
For details about some of South Carolina’s upcoming events or to register for the Nov. 19 celebration, visit https://scarchivesandhistoryfoundation.org/ and click on News and Events. The symposium will be held at the SC Department of Archives & History. 8301 Parklane Road Columbia, SC 29223.

Historic Beaufort Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit education foundation created to preserve, protect, andpresent sites and artifacts of historic, architectural, and cultural interest throughout Beaufort County, South on social media, including Facebook and Instagram.

Main Street Beaufort – Looking back, looking forward

Main Street Beaufort – Looking back, looking forward

In 1985, downtown Beaufort’s commercial corridor was on the endangered list, with vacant storefronts, dilapidated buildings, little coordination among the merchants and the anchor tenant, a Belk department store, about to relocate to a shopping center three miles away.

Fast forward to 2022 and downtown Beaufort not only is thriving, but attracts attention regularly from national media for its beauty, appealing mix of restaurants and shops – most of them locally-owned – and tremendous pride among the merchants. The commercial buildings have been renovated and regularly are repainted and awnings replaced.

The nationally-recognized Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park creates a peaceful passive park with bench swings overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway and marina. A carefully-restored clock tower at the entrance to the park has created an iconic meeting place for people rendezvousing downtown – “we’ll meet you at the clock.”

All that change didn’t happen by accident.

In 1985, a group of downtown Beaufort merchants, property owners, city leaders and Historic Beaufort Foundation introduced the Main Street program to Beaufort. The program brings leadership, direction, preservation expertise and marketing help to small, historic and struggling downtown communities, such as Beaufort in the mid-1980s.

“Downtown might not have been dying, but it was certainly not as well as it could have been,” David Taub, Beaufort’s mayor in 1985, said in a 10-year retrospective. “We can thank the Main Street program for coming in and breathing new life into our downtown.”

Interestingly, Lise Sundrla, HBF’s assistant director, came to Beaufort in 1987 to lead Main Street Beaufort after a similar post in Gaffney, SC.

“Beaufort’s core commercial district certainly has seen ups and downs over the decades, but a cornerstone of all the successes has been this community’s dedication to working together and preserving historic structures while finding ways to re-energize what happens inside these historic storefronts and houses,” Sundrla said.

Since its inception in Beaufort, the Main Street program grew, flourished, cut back, changed focus and eventually morphed into several different elements to promote downtown Beaufort as a shopping and dining destination.

Cynthia Cole Jenkins, executive director of Historic Beaufort Foundation and who helped shape the group’s preservation work in the 1980s and ‘90s, points to the critical importance of Bay Street in downtown’s past – and future.

“Bay Street has been the heart of Beaufort through three centuries and for much of that time John Mark Verdier’s house has stood on a pivotal corner,” she said. “John Verdier was a merchant who faced financial ups and downs and built a remarkable example of Federal Period architecture that remained in the hands of his family for 144 years.

“Historic Beaufort Foundation was instrumental in resurrecting Bay Street when in the 1960s it committed to restoring such a major structure in the heart of downtown. As stewards of Mr. Verdier’s house for 70 years, we understand the benefit of historic preservation in Beaufort’s commercial core,” she noted.

Today, downtown Beaufort’s core commercial district faces challenges similar to some from the 1980s and ‘90s:

Continued expansion of retail development, including big box shopping, along Boundary Street, Robert Smalls Parkway and across from Cross Creek Shopping Center

Commercial and residential development at Whitehall and Lady’s Island, directly across from the historic district

Renewed conversations about the need for a new bridge that could bypass downtown.

Today, as 30 years ago, Main Street Beaufort can provide solutions. A key is bringing together businesses, community, civic and city leaders to strengthen downtown Beaufort.

Kevin Cuppia, co-owner of Modern Jewelers, a fixture on Bay Street since 1947, saw the challenges of the 1980s and was among the merchants who embraced the Main Street Beaufort concept.

“Having a coordinated approach to preserving the historic storefronts and encouraging businesses that could compliment and thrive made great sense, and then the work to consistently present the downtown district as a desirable, attractive place to shop and eat helped put us back on the map,” Cuppia said.

“We are proud to have been one of the early supporters and partners of Main Street in the 1980s and ‘90s and we still keep those concepts in mind when I meet with other downtown merchants,” he said.

Today’s conversations include preserving historic properties while upgrading essential infrastructure such as drainage, electrical and Internet service, and providing a coordinated approach to marketing and promotions while encouraging and supporting businesses that fit the authentic sense of Beaufort.

“Working together, we can focus on building an even stronger economic engine in downtown Beaufort while preserving and enhancing the historic experience,” Sundrla said.


Annual Beaufort Fall Festival of Houses & Gardens Oct. 22-23 features Downtown Historic District and city’s unique architectural history

Historic Beaufort Foundation’s annual Fall Festival of Houses & Gardens, October 22-23, is among the Lowcountry’s most-anticipated events and this year’s schedule includes iconic properties as well as a Sunday brunch, tour, and conversation at Tidalholm with HBF executive director Cynthia Jenkins and Beaufort architect Rob Montgomery on the Beaufort Style of architecture and way of life.

Named one of South Carolina’s best fall festivals by “Best Things South Carolina,” the annual tour is one of the rare times that owners of historic houses open them for public tours.

“The Fall Festival of Houses & Gardens is the best time to experience Beaufort's extraordinary setting and architecture as gracious property owners open their private homes and exquisite gardens to public view.” said Cynthia Jenkins, executive director of Historic Beaufort Foundation. “To visit inside these houses and to walk their gardens is truly a magical experience.”  

This year’s event represents the best of The Beaufort Style while reflecting Beaufort’s distinct architectural history. Sponsors include Frederick & Frederick ArchitectsGilbert Law Firm, Modern Jewelers, Montgomery Architecture & Planning, Lowcountry Real Estate, Beaufort Carts, HomeFinder Realty Group and Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Bay Street Realty Group.

The Beaufort style reflects the rural setting of the town laid out following the natural bends of the river as it wraps around Beaufort’s famous Point Neighborhood. Sometimes referred to by architectural historians as a “plantation style come to town,” Beaufort’s architectural heritage reflects both topographic and climatic conditions with key design elements that ensured more comfort in the sub-tropical climate of the Lowcountry.


The Saturday walking tour will take visitors through modest cottages to grand residences to historic churches dating circa 1786 through the early 1900s. 

Highlights include the Milton Maxcy House, ca.1810 and remodeled in the 1850s; the John Joyner Smith House, ca.1850; the William Ritchie House, ca. 1883; “Petit Point,” ca. 1855; the Talbird-Sams House, ca.1786; the Adam Davis Hare House, ca.1924; and the Parish Church of St. Helena, ca.1817-1842; and its churchyard.

Of special note is the inclusion this year of one of the rare officer’s cottages that was saved and relocated from Parris Island to the Point.

 The John Mark Verdier House, which underwent a comprehensive exterior renovation in 2021 taking it back to its 1804 paint scheme, is also included on the Saturday tour this year. The renovation earned statewide honors.

A highlight of the weekend is Sunday’s brunch and tour of the Edgar Fripp House, ca.1853, also known as “Tidalholm.” HBF Executive Director, Cynthia Jenkins and local architect Rob Montgomery will be discussing the Beaufort Style of architecture and way of life. 

This year’s properties are in historic downtown Beaufort along the Bluff, on the Point and in the downtown commercial district. The tour will take place rain-or-shine on Saturday, October 22 and Sunday, October 23, and all sales are final.


Advanced reservations are strongly recommended as this popular event tends to fill up quickly. Tickets for the Saturday tour are $60 for HBF members and $75 for non-members. Tickets for the Sunday Brunch and Tour of the Edgar Fripp House (Tidalholm) are $130 for HBF members and $150 for non-members.  Please note Sunday tickets are limited and will go quickly


All tickets may be purchased by calling HBF at 843-379-3331 or online athttps://historicbeaufort.org/beauforts-architects-tour/


Online Ticket sales will close Thursday, Oct. 20 at midnight. Tickets will also be available for purchase on Saturday, Oct. 22, 9AM to 2:00PM at the fall tour station in the Arsenal Courtyard, 713 Craven Street. 


HBF has prioritized tour participants’ and safety during the event. Per homeowner requests, masks may be required when inside the properties.


Please also plan to visit other community events scheduled during the Tour weekend:

Downtown Gallery & Merchant Walk – Friday, October 21, 5-8 PM, Downtown Beaufort. Visit many of Beaufort’s unique downtown galleries and shops as they stay open to welcome locals and visitors for the Fall Tour weekend.

Halloween Celebration – Saturday, October 22, 10AM, Henry C. Chamber Waterfront Park. Sponsored by the City of Beaufort.

Sunday Community Sing with Marlena Smalls and Eric Crawford – Sunday, October 23, 3PM, Carteret Street Methodist Church, 408 Carteret Street. Sponsored by USCB’s Center for the Arts. For tickets: https://centerfortheartstickets.universitytickets.com/w/event.aspx?id=1572

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 historicbeaufort.org and follow them on social media, including Facebook and Instagram.



Historic Beaufort Foundation earns major honor for exterior renovation of the John Mark Verdier House

Historic Beaufort Foundation’s extensive 2021 exterior renovation of the John Mark Verdier House on Beaufort’s Bay Street earned Preservation South Carolina’s prestigious Stewardship Award July 13.

Built in 1804, the 13,000-square-foot Federal style building used era-appropriate shipbuilding techniques, with beams and hand-cut boards laid horizontally. Slated for demolition by Beaufort city officials in 1944, a group of Beaufort residents rallied to save it and it opened as a house museum in 1975.

Since 1990, Preservation South Carolina has saved historic homes, helped businesses process historic tax credit opportunities, and enforced easements. They also focus on the preservation of rural-historic churches, the revitalization of smaller community’s downtown areas through historic preservation, and the saving of historically significant Black landmarks across the state.

Each year the organization celebrates exceptional preservation work across South Carolina.

“The Verdier House is one of the best-known properties in Beaufort’s National Historic Landmark District, and this award continues to validate our work to preserve and protect the Verdier House,” said Cynthia Jenkins, executive director of HBF and a nationally-known preservationist.

The award-winning restoration took place during 2021 and addressed decades-long weather damage along with changing the home’s exterior paint scheme to reflect its original construction more accurately.

“This was painstakingly-detailed work, most of it by hand, and what we see now is as close as possible to what John Mark Verdier saw when he completed construction of the house more than two centuries ago,” Jenkins said. Recent analysis and study of the Verdier House’s tabby foundation shows it was the first use of Roman cement in South Carolina, Jenkins said.

Roman cement is a substance developed by James Parker in the 1780s and patented in 1796. It was a natural cement made by burning certain clay deposits and then grinding them to a fine powder. This product, made into a mortar with sand and mixed with water, set in minutes and stayed strong for decades or longer.

Greenville-based Preservation South, LLC was brought in to plan and manage the Verdier restoration project in concert with the Historic Beaufort Foundation. Greenbuild, a contractor, and Positive Outlook Painting, both also from Greenville, were hired to undertake the work.

The entire exterior envelope of the building was scraped by hand to remove loose and flaking paint as well as determine if the substrate was solid or in need of replacement.

The building was then primed and repainted in a period scheme supported by expert paint analysis.

The scored block pattern original to the foundation was recreated in paint on the tabby foundation. Only two small sections of the original scoring are visible today. These were used to recreate the layout using classical ratios. Once the design and size of the blocks were finalized, the pattern was meticulously laid out on the foundation and painted by hand.

Also, wood fence panels under the front steps and a gate in the form of a fence section were re-created from historic photos to bring back long-missing character-defining features of the house.

“This project was years in the making and serves as an example for other historic properties in Beaufort to be brought back to their historic appearance,” said Wayne Vance, chairman of the Historic Beaufort Foundation Board of Trustees.

“The amount of research that went into this project is truly amazing, and the detailed craftsmanship of the renovations were executed to the highest historic preservation standards,” he said.


HBF is a 501(c)3 nonprofit education foundation. For more information on the Foundation’s mission and history, please visit historicbeaufort.org and follow them on social media, including Facebook and Instagram.