Built circa 1841 as a summer residence for plantation owner John James Cole, the historic Heyward House is a typical Lowcountry farmhouse style of architecture that was built to be cool in the summer. It was influenced by houses in the Indies, raised on piers, with large windows and a wide front porch. It has a shotgun center hall and bookend chimneys flanking the house. The brick walk and fireplaces were handmade from Savannah gray brick. The heartwood pine floors and rough-hewn plank walls, likely built by Cole’s slaves, still remain. Behind the house stand two outbuildings, an original slave cabin and a reconstructed summer kitchen.
During the Civil War, Union forces destroyed most of Bluffton Village; however 15 homes and two churches survived, including the Cole’s home. After the Civil War when Mr. Cole died and his wife could no longer maintain the home, the house passed to the Heyward family. Five generations of Heywards occupied the house until the late 1990s, when the Bluffton Historical Preservation Society purchased it and opened a house museum.
The house, located in Bluffton’s National Register Historic District, also serves as Bluffton’s official Welcome Center. It is open Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Admission to the house and visitor information is free. Docent-led tours of the house and grounds are available for a nominal charge for adults and students. Children 10 and under are free.
During the week, the Heyward House Museum and Welcome Center also offers guided walking tours of the Historic District that include the 45-minute tour of the house and grounds, and a 75-minute walk through the Historic District. There is a fee for these tours and 48-hour advance reservations are required. Or you can choose to take a self-guided tour of the town for free. Staff will provide you with a National Register Historic District Walking Tour map developed by the Bluffton Historical Preservation Society.
The Heyward House Museum and Welcome Center is located at 70 Boundary Street in Old Town Bluffton. For more information call (843) 757-6293.
Heyward House Museum and Welcome Center (843-757-6293)
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