Spartina 449 is an upscale Southern lifestyle brand, offering handbags, accessories, jewelry, apparel, & more. Combining colorful designs with both classic and modern styles, Spartina 449 is a unique shopping experience appealing to women everywhere. Inspired by Daufuskie Island, SC, collections are trimmed with golden details and an iconic mermaid, reminders of the spirit of island living. OLD TOWN BLUFFON STORE HOURS: Mon-Wed: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Thu-Sat: 10 a.m – 7 p.m.; Sun: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sit & Sleep Mattress is Hilton Head’s source for premium bedding, and we are located on Highway 278 in the Best Buy shopping center. We are family owned and operated, and we have been serving the Lowcountry since 1982. We carry Simmons Beautyrest Black, Beautyrest, Tempur-Pedic, Serta iComfort, and King Koil mattresses. We specialize in… Read More…
FREE at more than 350 locations in the Hilton Head Island, Bluffton, Beaufort and Savannah areas. Lowcountry Leisure Guide provides a comprehensive view of what Hilton Head Island, Bluffton, Beaufort and Savannah has to offer in the way of Shopping, Dining, Activities and Calendar of Events. If you would like to preview the guides before your arrival, you can view the guide ONLINE.
167 Bluffton Road Suite B | Bluffton | (843) 757-4999
J&S AUTOMOTIVE INCTest
Auto Repair | 39 Persimmon Street | Bluffton | (843) 757-4946
Garden Gate NurseryTest
2 State of Mind Street | Bluffton
Art on the Outside: Michele Roldán-Shaw’s Dolphin Mural on Calhoun StreetTest
Mayfest is an amazing annual celebration of regional artists and artisans, but local painters, potters, sculptors, woodworkers, jewelry makers and craftsmen make Bluffton the “HeART of the Lowcountry” every day.
In addition to the colorful galleries, eclectic shops and tasteful eateries lining Calhoun Street and adjacent avenues, new public art occasionally pops up in Old Town. Recently, a painting of a mother and baby dolphin leaping out the water replaced D. Pierce Giltner’s weatherworn shrimp boat image on the corner of Bridge and Boundary Streets.
Giltner, an esteemed local artist who operated Gallery Without Walls next to The Store on Calhoun Street for several years, asked Michele Roldán-Shaw to create a new installment on the former Town bulletin board; prepping the wood, providing the paints and studio space and even installing the finished piece.
“It was his kind way of lending a hand to a fellow outsider artist—meaning we don’t have formal training or a lot of slick marketing behind us, so we have to be innovative and make our own way,” she explains. “I’m very grateful to Pierce for giving me this opportunity!”
Perhaps best known as a freelance journalist (and longtime Bluffton Breeze contributor), as well as the author of two true adventure tales called “Rambler’s Life,” Roldán-Shaw’s first love was art.
“I have been doing art for as long as I can remember,” explains the avid outdoorswoman. “However, I have no formal schooling—I just follow my own muse! When I moved to Bluffton 13 years ago, I started painting the local flora and fauna I saw in my explorations.”
For instance, her Lowcountry mural at the Coastal Discovery Museum includes a black snake slithering up a palmetto tree (a memory from a visit to Hunting Island), as well as a pod of dolphins with one tiny, black newborn fin in the center (as seen on Bull Creek). She also spent several years showing her art at various Calhoun Street galleries while painting more murals for businesses and private residences.
Today, Roldán-Shaw’s primary focus is on her writing, although she still does commissioned pieces and original artwork for family and friends. A table she had painted long ago with a mother and baby dolphin provided iconic inspiration for her most recent project.
“[Dolphins] are one thing NOBODY ever gets tired of seeing,” she says. “I am very pleased with how the painting has been received in the spirit of town beautification that everyone can enjoy.”
To view Roldán-Shaw’s gallery of artwork, inquire about painting commissions or learn more about her books, call (843) 304-3460 or visit ramblerslife.com.
Mike Reichenbach Chevrolet BlufftonTest
10 University Parkway | Bluffton | (843) 208-8800
447 Okatie Highway | Okatie | (843) 705-5959
The Gift Of FishingTest
A lifetime love of the sport passes through the generations.
Article and photo by Captain Miles Altman, Bayrunner Fishing Charters
‘Tis the season and, as usual, I spend a lot of time contemplating gifts. I have long since figured out the favorite gift I’ve ever received: the time and effort of a few people who introduced me to fishing.
The first, to the best of my recollection, was a tiny Japanese lady by the name of Jeannie. Being a Navy brat, I grew up on military bases, and Jeannie had married a sailor who was my Dad’s best friend.
I think I was around seven when she put me to the task of gathering a sack full of hermit crabs. We were stationed in Puerto Rico, and hermits were as plentiful as fiddlers are here in the Lowcountry.
She then took me by the hand and led me to the Navy pier, where she pulled out her hammer, cracking the shells and exposing the crab’s tail that it uses to anchor itself into the shell.
It turns out the crab tail is caviar to fish, and we were soon cranking in fish left and right. I remember very little of my early youth, but that memory has always remained clear and vivid.
Fast forward six years, and another gentleman entered my life, embracing the role of Dad, just as if I was his own blood. Being an avid fisherman and hunter, it was not long before he had me on the banks of the Columbia River fishing and catching steelhead and trout. The whole ritual of gathering the rods and tackle boxes, coupled with the anticipation of a foray into the wild, was euphoric.
Being blessed now with a son and daughter, I have tried to pass this on to my kids. My son Caleb, 16, has finally come full stride in his passion. This past summer, he was up at 5:30 every morning, assuming the role of first mate. He didn’t miss a single trip. The spark is definitely glowing in his eyes, and his latest aspiration has changed to marine biology, as opposed to NBA star.
My little Sarah, 10, has many trips under her belt and can tell you every fish she has ever caught, albeit not a long list.
Some of my favorite charter trips involve youngsters who have never fished. I get a lot of gratification watching the fire light up when they catch their first fish. In these days of technology, when children’s attention seems to be dominated with cell phones or video games, getting them in touch with nature and a bent rod is fantastic.
Caleb wants to go to Florida this Christmas holiday and catch his first sailfish. He has reeled in many fish over 40 pounds — including redfish, cobia and mahi — and wants to add billfish to the list. While we have them here, they are some 60 miles offshore, making it a long and costly journey locally. When the cold fronts of December roll through southern Florida, they congregate there within a mile of shore.
I can’t think of a better gift. Merry Christmas and God bless!
Capt. Miles Altman of Bayrunner Fishing Charters has more than 42 years of experience fishing Lowcountry waters. Don’t miss the Finatic boat, which accommodates up to 12 passengers and features a special 3-hour shark/dolphin eco-tour. Contact Capt. Miles at (843) 290-6955 to book an unforgettable inshore or offshore charter fishing trip, departing from Shelter Cove Marina.
Keeping Bluffton PristineTest
That was me—no cable television, no iPad, no computer and no video games (does ATARI Pac-Man/Space Invaders count?). Instead, we had motor boats, four wheelers and three-wheel golf carts. I’m so thankful that I can say this. But still…a bad parenting choice on my mother’s part! However, she was right. There were less people on the river and less trash. There were plenty of mullet and saltwater catfish (see sidebar on opposite page), and blue crabs on every chicken neck. Kids threw cast nets and floated to the Sand Bar with the outgoing tide. The May River seemed enormous, and the summer never-ending.
Bluffton—then a diamond in the rough—could not be kept unpolished forever. Others discovered the temperate climate, the quaint feel, the pristine river, and the explosion of job opportunities. Bluffton is the fastest-growing municipality in South Carolina. Unfortunately, as the population increases, so does the trash making its way to the May River. Blowers clear the streets and lawns in town, pushing plastic bags, cans, and debris to their lawn’s edges, and wind and rain carry the items to the coves and river. Plus, anything that isn’t nailed down flies out of the boats. My great-grandmother pushed her icebox and porcelain toilet over the bluff to help “stabilize” it when she upgraded to a refrigerator. The older generation is not without fault.
Do you remember when bottled water first showed up? I remember thinking that there was no way I was going to pay for water I could get for free. At this point, I’ll have to concede that it is very portable and convenient, and I provide it on 100-degree summer days to keep my customers from melting into the seats. I collect the bottles at the end for recycle. Honestly, no one should leave the house without their reusable water bottles!
Plastics are found in the guts of many shore birds and sea turtles, causing an intestinal blockage that results in death, and fish ingest microplastics (oil droplets resulting from the breakdown of plastics that have been degrading in the environment for many years). Plastics do break down, but never fully disappear. The scientific community has yet to determine the direct repercussions of this, although it could explain many things such as malformation, or reproductive abnormalities.
When the community comes together to clean up the May River for Earth Day on April 22, we should all make an attempt to participate. I understand some people work on Saturdays, and there will never be a day that suits everyone, but there is always trash in the river. I pick it up on a daily basis during my ecology tours with my crab net serving as my “Trash Recovery Device.” I have even worked it into my tour monologue, and patrons cheer when we successfully retrieve a trash item. Locals and visitors are obviously concerned with trash in the natural environment, or they would not have booked my tour! (However, some objects we will probably never see again. There is a VW Bug at the drop-off beyond Calhoun Street Dock, as well as a shopping cart. I don’t want to know…)
Get out there and collect your share of trash! The health of the May River depends upon stewards of the environment. This applies to everyone.
Things you can do:
• Bring cloth bags for grocery shopping and leave theplastic ones in the store. • Keep the lids on trash cans. • Secure all trash items in your boat and on the dock, so they don’t blow off. • Avoid using Styrofoam. • Spend time with your kids outside and teach them that litter is harmful to the environment. • Recycle!
The 17th Annual May River Cleanup and Earth Day Celebration takes place at Bluffton Oyster Factory Park on April 22 from 9-11:30 a.m. Coffee will be provided by Starbucks in the morning; lunch courtesy of Walmart in the afternoon; with an Earth Day Celebration hosted by Experience Green. For details, call Beth Lewis at the Town of Bluffton at (843) 706-4559 or email [email protected].
While Bluffton may be a small town, it has some fantastic shopping. Home to both Tanger Outlets, and many big name brands, Bluffton gets the crowds to come off Hilton Head Island, just so they can shop. But while the name brands may lure shoppers to the town, what really makes them stay are the small boutiques and vintage stores scattered around Old Town and throughout the rest of the city.
Eggs N’ Tricities
5 Lawton Street
If there is one must-see shop to stop at in Bluffton, this is it. Eggs N’ Tricities is a true one of a kind store. Filled to the brim with art, small antiques, women’s clothing, jewelry, accessories and much much more, Eggs N’ Tricities truly will have everything you could ever need, want or imagine! All set in a shabby chic vintage setting, there are tons of things to look at and shop for in this wonderful Bluffton boutique. You can even find recycled furniture and antiques for the home. A one stop shop filled with amazing trinkets for anyone and everyone. With its new location on Lawton Street, Eggs N’ Tricities can only grow further and fit more into the store.
After opening in 2008, Gigi’s quickly became Bluffton’s go-to for current fashion trends and great southern style for all ages and budgets. Inside, Gigi’s has big windows to help showcase all of the fantastic jewelry on display, giving their shop a light and airy feel. They have several different style selections within their store, spanning from wall to wall and appropriate for all age groups. With friendly staff who are fantastic at putting together that last minute date outfit, or even picking out an adorable accessory for a friend, Gigi’s has all kinds outfits at affordable prices. It’s located right in the heart of Old Town, which means they live the Bluffton way of life: friendly, accommodating and made to feel like home.
Hours: Monday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
32 Calhoun Street
Spartina 449 is truly a Bluffton and Lowcountry gem. Started on Daufuskie Island with the idea of supporting the community’s historical past through fashion accessories, Spartina 449 takes inspiration from everything around the Lowcountry. They even name their patterns after local areas – Hilton Head, Daufuskie and Savannah pattern.
With different styles of handbags, wallets and scarves, Spartina 449 covers all your accessory needs and in an environmentally conscious way. Spartina 449 uses organic linen, leather and dyes on all of their products to not only create a wearable product, but also one that can last. They even carry adorable jewelry fit for any age from bangles, to necklaces, and every type of earring you can imagine. In the past few years, the Spartina 449 brand has exploded all over the South, but their flagship store still remains in Old Town Bluffton right on Calhoun Street, next to Gigi’s Boutique and the Cottage restaurant.
4373-7 Bluffton Parkway & 18 Plantation Park Drive
The Off Island Thrift Store is the only source of income for Bluffton’s Cancer Awareness Foundation, a nonprofit that donates all proceeds of their stores to those struggling with Cancer. With thousands upon thousands of items in each location, the Off Island Thrift Store offers amazing deals for great clothing starting as low as $1. In the first two years, the Cancer Awareness foundation has donated over $1,141,000 to cancer patients around the Lowcountry area. Shopping for a cause is fun and funky at the Off Island Thrift Store and will have you leaving with bulging bags on each trip!
Hours: All locations are open on Tuesday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Mike Reichenbach Chevrolet ServiceTest
Auto Repair Shop | 10 University Parkway | Okatie | (877) 846-1373
1569 Fording Island Road | Bluffton | (843) 837-4000
Holiday Cranberry Mule Recipe from Hilton Head DistilleryTest
The Cranberry Mule is a holiday take on the popular Moscow Mule. It is a perfect seasonal cocktail for a Christmas get together.
Holiday Cranberry Mule Recipe:
2 OZ OF AERMOOR VODKA
1 OZ OF CRANBERRY JUICE
5 OZ OF GINGER BEER LIME JUICE
Combine Aermoor Vodka and cranberry juice in a shaker full of ice. Shake, then pour over ice. Top off with ginger beer, add lime juice to taste and stir gently. Serve with fresh cranberries, lime and a sprig of rosemary for garnish.
“Opportunity” is a word that comes up a lot with Laura Bush. The opportunities she’s been given, and those that young folks enjoy today. Hers is a story of opportunities seized, envisioned, and given back.
Laura is a Bluffton native whose people go as far back as can be traced—to Spring Island on her daddy’s side, and Buckingham Plantation on her mom’s. You don’t get any more local than Laura Bush. She recalls playing in the dirt streets of Old Town with her friends, attending segregated schools, seeing her daddy fish and farm; watching everyone eat from the river and the earth and share whatever they had.
“If I look back from where I’m sitting now, I’d say it was hard,” said Laura, who will tell her story at an honorary banquet this month at Campbell Chapel AME in Bluffton. “We didn’t think of ourselves as poor or deprived. We were all in the same situation. But now, after all the work I’ve done, I can see we were in dire straits.”
Nearly a half-century later, Laura views the Lowcountry through eyes that have seen what newcomers never will. A lot has changed, and she played a major role in that. As one of 14 siblings, Laura knew college was out of the question, so upon high school graduation in 1962 she headed north to live with an elder sister in New York, and then a brother in Washington, D.C.
“Coming from a little old country town and the freedom that I had, I did not like the city,” Laura admitted. She had yet to find her niche when life took her in another direction: her father suffered a debilitating stroke, so Laura returned home to help her mother care for him. In those days, the job prospects in Bluffton were limited, so she found work on Hilton Head in hospitality, housekeeping or groundskeeping, just like the rest of her contemporaries. “That was life as I knew it,” she said. “I didn’t think there would be anything else and I didn’t see a problem with it.”
Fate had bigger things in store for young Laura.
The first twist came when former South Carolina Governor Fritz Hollings embarked on a statewide poverty tour. At that time, a doctor in Beaufort was speaking out about children falling sick and even dying from malnutrition, iron deficiency and stomach worms. No one had indoor plumbing in those days, only shallow wells with pumps, and sanitation issues like using the bathroom outside, unwashed hands and playing in the same dirt were causing children to become infected with parasites. (Laura recalls her mother treating them once a month with Castor oil to flush their systems.) As awareness exposed these living conditions, former Governor Hollings and his team decided to come see for themselves. Someone recommended Laura as a guide, and despite having little personal interest in the issues at the time, she led the delegation on an in-home, eyewitness experience. This was the unwitting start to Laura’s career in public health and service.
Later, as she worked at what was then Bluffton’s dry cleaning service on the corner of Calhoun Street and May River Road, she was approached with another opportunity. The University of South Carolina was implementing a program to study and combat intestinal parasites, and asked Laura for help with outreach, data collection and community education. Suddenly, she was testing soil samples, holding community meetings, conducting “dietary recall” fieldwork, going into homes and convincing mothers to get their children treated.
“I realized I had the ability to impact people,” Laura said. “When I spoke, they believed in me. I would tell them, ‘These doctors aren’t going to harm your kids, and they trusted me. I was able to get almost 200 children to participate.”
It was a true awakening for her—not only to the issues she’d been unaware of growing up, but also to her own ability and desire to do something about them. In 1969, a Senate hearing on Nutrition and Human Needs was held to report the findings of their groundbreaking work, resulting in the creation of the Beaufort-Jasper Comprehensive Health Center, which remains a cornerstone of the community today (it now includes Hampton County, as well.) Soon after opening their doors, they hired Laura as Health Education and Action Assistant, the first of several positions she would hold there over the next decade. “It was a fantastic 10 years,” she said. “We did so much work.”
Laura went on to become a consultant for the Beaufort-Jasper County Water and Sewer Authority on a project to bring potable water to folks in rural communities.
Again, she realized her ability to “organize, plan and implement” was making a difference. She grew in knowledge and skill, networking and gaining the community’s trust. By this point in her career, you could give Laura Bush an assignment, and she would sit down and study the proposal before hitting the streets to make it happen.
“Even though there were periods of time where I didn’t have a job, people always found me,” she said. “The native blacks have a song that every round just goes higher and higher [“We Are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder”]—that’s how my jobs went.”
Next, she was hired by the Institute for Community Education and Training to conduct a statewide project on the needs of low-income women, despite her limited knowledge of the field.
“I think from there I felt I could do anything,” she said. When the executive director left, Laura stepped up; the role presented new challenges, because for the first time she was responsible not only for her own livelihood, but everyone else on the nonprofit’s staff, as well. She’ll never forget when the Ford Foundation gave them $300,000, the biggest funding proposal she ever wrote.
From there, Laura went to the Beaufort County Department of Social Services, where she coordinated an emergency assistance program to help people facing such hardships as illness, disaster or the loss of a job or a spouse. She created a system whereby local charitable agencies could access records of who had been given assistance—when, where and how—thereby preventing abuse.
She even helped nab a criminal during those days! Laura knew something wasn’t right about the individual posing as a homeless man with a broken ankle in need of a bus ticket home to Virginia, who turned out to be an escaped convict from Florida. But mostly her office was the conduit through which help flowed.
“Say someone has a $200 bill, their lights are going to get cut off and they have children in the house,” Laura explained of her work during those years. “I would ask that person what they could contribute, then get pledges from churches or other local groups that wanted to help. You could take a special form signed by me to the light company, and that was like money in the bank. I established all those relationships. There were times I actually had law enforcement in people’s yards getting ready to pull their mobile homes, and I would say ‘Sir, how can we buy some time?’ I helped take a lot of stress off people, and I enjoyed that a whole lot. I really felt I was making a difference.”
In 2007, after 15 years with DSS, Laura left to battle breast cancer. She feels blessed to be a 10-year survivor, however she doesn’t consider herself retired just yet.
“I don’t see that my work is done,” she said. “There are still some issues, especially with our children.” In 1988, she got on the school board thinking she’d do a single term, but four years turned into 26. After all that experience, she is able to identify two target areas that still need improvement in our schools: diversity and achievement.
“We need to always keep diversity at the forefront,” she said. “We live in a community of blacks, whites and Hispanics, so I would like to see that reflected more in our teachers and leadership.”
Always one to speak her mind, Laura also sees a need for sensitivity training in schools, as she feels cultural differences might account for the higher numbers of African-American students getting referrals, suspension or expulsion. “I don’t think our kids are any worse than anybody else’s,” she said. “So, we need to turn those numbers around.” It disturbs her that African-American students are still on the bottom in terms of academic performance. “Apply resources! Give them a double-dose of reading or math or whatever they need to get them up to the level where they should be.”
True to form, Laura is taking action. In 2016, she founded the “Better to Give Back Fund,” inspired in part by her son’s mentoring of young black males on Hilton Head, and the desire he expressed to see them improve their self-image.
“These kids think they’re not worth anything,” said Laura, “that people have a certain image of them and they can’t be anything beyond that. So, we have to keep encouraging them to see that doors are opening, that they need to not squander those opportunities.”
Laura’s non-profit, which gives money toward local scholarships and other programs, is committed to the “Five E’s”: Empowerment, Experience, Education, Exposure and Entertainment. An upcoming banquet at Campbell Chapel will benefit the fund, as well as celebrating Laura’s life and 48 years of community service, while giving people the chance to hear her incredible story in her own words.
“I think those moving here today have no earthly concept of what Bluffton was like,” she said. “For those of us who lived it, there needs to be more opportunities to share both the good and the bad. We had black entrepreneurs! We had a black movie theatre on Calhoun Street; we had an undertaker, grocery store, a lady who owned an apartment complex, two brothers who captained their own boats, and a cooperative of black fisherman who actually bought and owned the Bluffton Oyster Factory for a while. Where is that in the Bluffton history books? There are people out there who have stories to tell, so hopefully by telling mine it will open the doors for others.”
It is remarkable what Laura Bush has accomplished without a college degree, simply through work ethic, desire to learn, and commitment to serving her community. She is the first to express gratitude to all those who supported her, particularly her husband who helped take care of their four children all those years she was working.
“I have availed myself of all kinds of opportunities,” said Laura. “I can tell you all the people who gave them to me, and I appreciate them when I see them. I always try to treat people decently, never speak ill of anyone, but listen to their opinion and give them mine. When people don’t respect and trust you, you’re not going to get anywhere. So, I think people have seen in me the kind of character that made me respected, and I thank God for that.”
What: An Evening With Laura Bush
When: Saturday, July 22, 2017 at 6 p.m.
Where: Campbell Chapel A.M.E. Church, 21 Boundary St. Bluffton
Contact: Leon Bush Jr. (843)247-7714 or Myla Mitchell (843)290-1732
Article written by Michele Roldán-Shaw
Photos courtesy of Jaala’s Photography
5 Facts About Old Town BlufftonTest
1. Old Town is a great destination for visitors.
Situated along a natural bluff overlooking the May River, Old Town Bluffton features historic homes converted into chic boutiques, treasure-filled antique shops, caffeine-rich cafés and colorful art galleries. Wander through Bluffton’s shady streets, play cornhole, sample happy hour specials and discover beautiful works of art by Lowcountry artists.
2. History lives on Bluffton’s streets.
Although some of Bluffton’s homes were burned in 1863 during the Civil War, the historic structures that remain offer insight into the mercantile society of river traders who once occupied them. Today, Calhoun Street has the community’s densest concentration of historic homes and art galleries.
3. Southern hospitality is always in style.
The historic Heyward House
The Heyward House, located at 70 Boundary St., is the Official Welcome Center for the Town of Bluffton, offering free maps, information and more. This historic home, built in 1841 and inspired by planters’ homes in the British West Indies, is open for guided tours Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
4. Bluffton offers memorable
By Jay fraser4 [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Popular annual events in Bluffton include Mayfest, which originally started in 1978 and unites local artisans and musicians to celebrate local culture, and the Historic Bluffton Arts & Seafood Festival, which features original art, kayak tours, a 5K run and plenty of fresh, local seafood.
Land Rover Hilton HeadTest
145 Drivers Way | Bluffton | (843) 208-7702
Autotechs of the LowcountryTest
Auto Repair | 36 Persimmon Street #204 | Bluffton | (843) 757-2886
Even though we may have the opportunity to enjoy our fireplaces just a few months out of the year, the smoke billowing from our Lowcountry chimneys evokes fond memories of families gathering after dinner to play games or watch movies together on a chilly February evening.
Fireplaces not only provide a warm focal point for the family, but often set the style and ambiance for the room. The mantle and surround can exude a cozy, rustic charm, amp up the interior with an ultra-contemporary vibe or radiate an elegant sophistication echoed throughout the house. Today, fireplaces are wood-burning, gas, electric or ethanol, and vary in style from the traditional, tall and classically elegant Rumford version developed in the late 1790s, to a contemporary see-through design that makes a statement. Fireplaces are common in living rooms and bedrooms, but in many neighborhoods, it is just as common to find them outdoors, complete with a kitchen, pizza oven and view of the marsh.
A decision to add a fireplace to a home is not simple (or cheap). The first decision to be made is whether or not a masonry fireplace is warranted, or if a pre-fabricated, factory-built one is the right option. When masons, architects and designers tackle this project, they are crafting a cornerstone of the home, integrating an architectural feature—or “megastructure” as our friend Ryan Skrak calls it—not just installing the less expensive “metal box” that may be more efficient, but certainly not as long lasting.
“A lot of people put in a metal box, but they don’t last because the Lowcountry has such a high density of salt air,” says Skrak, Masonry Master and Fireplace Expert, who has been building fireplaces all over the Lowcountry and Coastal Empire, including St. Simons Island, Savannah, Bluffton, Spring Island, Charleston and Kiawah Island. “A lot of people are told that it’s stainless steel, but that’s stainless, not rust-proof. It’s going to rust and then fall apart.”
Masonry fireplaces will more than likely experience several owners over their 100-year lifespan, whereas choosing a “metal box” shortens this period by 40 years. Whether homeowners decide to design their own fireplace with an expert or pick a prefab to match their home, find a purpose and personality that play well together.
Whether classic or contemporary, see-through fireplaces can be of real value, as they provide a two-for-one bonus. Dress up two rooms with a unique and stylish architectural structure, instead of just one. Consider designing them differently and rein in each room according to personal preference, or let the fireplace flow through both rooms cohesively.
In coastal Carolina, parties are planned around oyster roasts, Lowcountry boils and backyard barbeques, which is why an outdoor escape isn’t complete without a fire ring, sturdy square brick fire pit or patio with an outdoor fireplace.
“Fire pits and fireplaces are a great extension of your home. It promotes the beautiful idea of what we call ‘outdoor living,’ ” senior landscaper at Sunshine Hardscape, Landscape & Nursery explains. “Adding a fire pit or a fireplace to your yard also adds functionality and a focal point to your landscape, especially in the fall and winter months.”
Stokes Brown Toyota of Hilton HeadTest
100 Fording Island Road | Bluffton | (888) 994-0079
1414 Fording Island Road | Bluffton | (843) 837-5410
Hilton Head HondaTest
161 Fording Island Road | Bluffton | (843) 815-2880
1005 Fording Island Road | Bluffton | (843) 837-1880
NAPA Auto Parts Erler And BourqueTest
2 Oliver Court | Bluffton | (843) 757-6272
Real Christmas Trees vs Fake: There is No DebateTest
White pine is a dense, full tree that has soft, blue green needles. This tree has a pleasant pine scent and decorates well with light weight ornaments.
By Amber Hester Kuehn
History Of Christmas Trees
The whole idea of bringing greenery into the house at the winter solstice (shortest day and longest night of the year) actually began as a pagan ritual. The sun god was “sick” in the winter, and the solstice marked the beginning of his recovery. The plants that stayed green in winter months reminded people that the lush landscape would return when the sun god was fully recovered and warmer months approached. Over centuries, the Egyptians, Romans, Druids, Celts and others have had versions of sun gods and greenery representing everlasting life, life over death, and more prosperous times.
Christmas trees as we know them today can be traced back to Christians in 16th century Germany. During this era, Martin Luther, a protestant priest, inspired by stars shining through the trees, wired candles to branches of his tree to replicate the moment. Inspiration through nature – I get that. It wasn’t until the 1800s that Christmas trees appeared on this side of the Atlantic – German immigrants in Pennsylvania decorated small trees with apples, cookies, popcorn, berries and nuts. However, Christmas trees were still regarded as pagan and did not gain in popularity until the very trendy Queen Victoria and Prince Albert put one in their palace in 1846 for all the world to see, illustrated in the London News. The decorated Christmas tree would become Americanized for years to come. Food decorating small trees became floor to ceiling trees with handmade ornaments, and candles gave way to electric lights.
It takes about seven years for a tree to mature to the average Christmas tree size (six-seven feet).
About 30 million real Christmas trees are sold in the United States each year and 350 million are currently growing on Christmas tree farms that exist in all 50 states!
For every tree harvested, up to three seeds are planted to replace it.
President Theodore Roosevelt banned the use of natural trees in the White House in 1901 to enhance opposition of deforestation. In 1905, the U.S. Forest Service was established to protect millions of acres of national forests. I am very proud of this major conservation movement, but Christmas trees are harvested from Christmas tree FARMS. They are planted with the intent to harvest and they are replanted constantly. This is not deforestation! I bet you thought I was going to say something else.
Fraser Fir has strong branches, blue green foliage, and a wonderful aroma. Because they require cool summer weather and higher altitudes, they do not grow in South Carolina. However, many farms carry pre-cut Fraser Fir for families who want to enjoy the tree selection in a farm atmosphere.
Natural trees are a renewable resource and can be recycled. In other words, it does not end up in a dump for 10 years attempting to biodegrade. I used to think that a fake tree would save the environment, and this may be true if you kept the same fake tree forever and passed it down as a family heirloom. However they, especially with the pre-lit trees, last about three years max. Every time you “get rid of” your fake tree, manufactured in China (85%), you are contributing PVC (polyvinyl chloride) to landfills. After about nine years, lead (stabilizer) may leach from the chemical compound. Fake trees became popular as advertised to be fire retardant, but they are not fire resistant. Recycling fake trees? Recycling PVC is cost prohibitive. It can be done, but municipalities are not going to be able to support it.
Shipping fake trees from manufacturing plants in China is no short trip. The fossil fuel consumed may cause more damage to the environment than taking the natural tree in the first place. Visualizing the working conditions does not get me into the Christmas spirit, and I’m pretty sure elves aren’t joyfully dancing while busying themselves producing Christmas decorations.
Leyland Cypress is one of the most popular trees grown in the South for Christmas trees. This tree drops very few needles and with proper care, will easily stay dress throughout the entire Christmas season. In addition to being a beautiful tree with soft foliage. It is grown from cuttings and does not produce pollen; therefore enabling many asthma suffered to enjoy a real tree in their home.
There are several Christmas tree farms in South Carolina. Remember, the Lowcountry has a temperate climate and most evergreens prefer a colder climate, so if you want your tree to last longer, purchase a palmetto tree, decorate it and have a Pluff Mud Christmas! Whatever floats your boat!
Just know that by buying a live tree, you’re making a decision that will conserve the environment, which should be a theme in our lives.
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Hunting for Treasures in BlufftonTest
From antique shops to estate sales, Bluffton offers plenty of opportunities to discover cool finds.
By Randolph Stewart, Photography by Alec Bishop
Have you ever heard the story about the couple who bought a ceramic bowl at a garage sale for $3? They later had it appraised, and it turned out to be a rare 1,000-year-old Chinese bowl that sold at auction for $2.2 million.
Years ago, a man bought some old photo negatives at a garage sale for $45. They ended up being priceless Ansel Adams negatives believed to be lost in a fire. In the end, the negatives turned out to be valued at more than $200 million.
Even if you don’t find a priceless treasure, it’s always a fun adventure to go hunting for neat stuff. Garage sales, flea markets, antique shops, thrift stores, Goodwill stores, auctions and estate sales are places where Bluffton residents can search for treasures at bargain prices.
Photographer Alec Bishop and I recently decided to have some fun, visiting three local Bluffton shops one rainy day in search of treasure. Our first stop was Al-Harry Furniture Design on Calhoun Street.
Right off the bat, we found some great stuff, including a large mirror made from old metal ceiling panels, repainted louvered shutters, a flower pot mounted on a piece of driftwood and a worn metal book cart. The reflections in the mirror revealed all sorts of treasures. Previously unwanted furniture has been transformed into beautiful pieces for your home or office, ranging from a chest of drawers and pie safe to armoires, tables and chairs.
All items have been expertly repurposed by Joe Fargione, who makes all the repairs or changes needed. Joe adds appliqués and the proper hardware, along with Allison, (left) his wife of 35 years. Al has a great eye and a talent for refinishing, painting, distressing and glazing, so you have a piece that will long be enjoyed and admired. A true treasure.
Look around closely at Al-Harry Furniture Design and you will surely find something you can’t live without. However, we weren’t ready to stop shopping for treasures yet, so it was on to Coastal Exchange, located next to Scott’s Meats on May River Road.
We didn’t have to look too far for more treasure. We spotted a set of vintage leather luggage. What a great find! And have you ever seen textile mill wooden wool spools, over three feet tall? Just place them anywhere, and they will become an instant conversation piece.
What draws your attention? Was it a memory from your grandmother? Did you think about that perfect spot in your home that needs to have just the right piece? One thing that caught my eye at Coastal Exchange was a small brass kettle nested inside an old oak wall cabinet, sitting on top of an Eastlake-style table.
Some things you see are simple forms that invite you to imagine what they can be used for now that they have been transformed. I saw a wonderful painted table that looked like it could have originally been used by a cobbler or a mechanic, but now looks like a cool folk art bar.
There is something special behind every little treasure. Nostalgia, a memory, the right color. Everywhere I looked, there was something new to experience at Coastal Exchange, including prints, lithographs, lamps, books, porcelain, tables, furniture, gadgets and gizmos.
Now, we still had a little money left and a day of treasure hunting would not be complete without a stop at Stock Farm Antiques, located just up the street between Four Corners Framing and May River Grill.
Emmett and Teddy McCracken always have new old treasures. My last trip in there, I bought a collection of Presidential campaign pins proclaiming “I Like Ike,” as well as pins supporting Kennedy, Taft, Wallace and Dewey/Warren. Dewey/Warren! Who remembers the runner-up?
Don’t forget to look down, as there are great treasures to be found under tables and just below the typical line-of-sight. Then, look up. Cool stuff can be found on the walls or on top of a display cabinet.
Sitting in a basket on a Victorian oak chair, I discovered a set of glass balls, which were originally floats from Japanese fishing nets. How unique! Fine crystal, china and silver, children’s furniture, early brass candlesticks. Hey, will you look at this? An old Chinese pipe with a finely carved wood holder and the intricate burner that held the embers to light it. That’s a treasure—you won’t find one of these often.
We collected some real treasures in Bluffton, but on the way out the door at Stock Farm Antiques, I saw something very interesting: a beautiful rosewood with applewood inlaid lady’s sewing table. English perhaps? Early for sure! Wonderful condition.
Maybe it’s Austrian and belonged to Duchess Elizabeth of Hungary, who married Emperor Franz Joseph. Maybe, like the ancient Chinese bowl and the Ansel Adams negatives, it’s worth a fortune. You never know. Happy hunting!
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New Girls on the Block: Shops open in Old TownTest
By Michele Roldán-Shaw
Every town has its famous avenue. Savannah has River Street, New York has Broadway, Paris has Champs Elysees and Bluffton has Calhoun Street. Our central artery since the days of being just a sleepy fishing village, Calhoun now extends into the modern construction of the Promenade. And like any “main street” in small-town America, the extent to which it throbs and pulses with lifeblood gives a reliable indication of how we’re faring. That’s why it’s encouraging to see so many fresh and interesting businesses come in, including shops by three new girls on the block: Ann Marie Fiore of Cocoon, LaCreasa Allen of The Roost, and Kelly Caron, ASID, of Kelly Caron Designs.
“I think it’s an experience to come into a small shop where you want to hang out for a while and actually have people hear what you’re saying,” said LaCreasa, who celebrated her grand opening at The Roost in November. “People want to get back to shopping locally the way it used to be, coming downtown and buying their Christmas gifts—it just feels better after all the years of box-shopping.”
These days it has become not only feel-good and fashionable to buy locally, but also the intelligent choice: by keeping our dollars circulating amongst ourselves, we ensure our own collective welfare. Thriving local businesses are, in LaCreasa’s words, “a reflection of the health, vitality and economic strength of the community.” Accordingly, she and her colleagues at Cocoon and Kelly Caron Designs—like other businesses in the Promenade—make it a priority to feature regional products whenever possible.
“One of the things I’ve really tried to focus on is searching out items that are exclusive to the Lowcountry,” said Ann Marie, who recently relocated Cocoon and its “Live with Style” adage to the Promenade after three years in Sheridan Park. “We carry Savannah Bee Company, Charleston Shoe Company, jewelry made in Beaufort, and dish towels hand-stamped on Hilton Head, including a Bluffton design available only here at Cocoon. Everything we have can be personalized, and our monograms are done locally.”
A browse around the store reveals an elegant yet homey coastal flavor that would be familiar to anyone in Bluffton—flatware decorated with blue crabs, haute perfume beside books by Garden & Gun, and clothing that looks fabulous yet feels like you’re wearing your pajamas. “From Exquisite to Everyday,” as Ann Marie puts it. “This is a lifestyle store for how we live and entertain in the Lowcountry, and down here we have a lot of company, so we carry products to make you and your guests feel comfortable.”
Just around the corner, LaCreasa Allen has fashioned a similar ambience at the Roost, yet with her own uniquely personal touch to “Elevate the Everyday.” Fine decanters, gourmet cocktail nuts and snacks, European antiques, custom stationary, animal prints and wood grains alongside orchids and burnished gold; her impeccable tastes come to the shopper’s aid. Many of the things she carries are Southern-made, and all of them are small-batch artisanal products. She’s particularly excited about “getting her hands on” some oyster knives from Williams Knife Company out of Edisto—finely handcrafted and regularly featured in Garden & Gun; they run in short supply during the holidays.
“We have a lot of special little things that bring that extra something,” said LaCreasa, who moved here from North Carolina because she fell in love with the natural beauty and quaint small town environment, but immediately saw the need for more shops as the economy picked up. “I like the idea that someone can call me and say ‘I need three or four gifts for the holidays and I need them to be at a certain price-point,’ then I can put together a grab-and-go gift package.”
This old-world rapport between customer and shopkeeper has been achieved by LaCreasa since her doors first opened. Local resident Heather Bender was recently in the shop and couldn’t contain her enthusiasm. “I’m SO excited you’re open!” she gushed. “I’ve lived here for 25 years but I kind of feel like I’m in Europe right now. I’m in that phase of life where I finally know what my style is—that mix of modern and traditional—and I like things that no one else has. I don’t have a lot of things, but the things I do have I’ve chosen them to be nice. I tell my husband all the time, I’m low-maintenance: a nice candle, some coffee, then I can chill out and be happy.”
After perusing around raving about things and enjoying the sample chocolate-covered peanuts, Heather finally left the store with a joyful declaration: “Can’t wait to come back! I’m going to tell all my friends—this will be my new happy place.”
For LaCreasa it must feel good to know she has filled her intended niche, and provided a customer with the exact experience she was seeking. “I’ve gotten the best feedback like that,” says LaCreasa. “It’s been overwhelming.”
A stone’s throw away is Kelly Caron, ASID (American Society of Interior Design). Her new space in the Promenade is a combination retail boutique and studio for professionally licensed Kelly Caron Designs. Clients can peruse books of lighting fixtures and fabric samples, or shop the floor with its heavy emphasis on the local. Kelly’s “Lowcountry Eclectic” blends antiques with comfortable furniture, beautiful Lowcountry paintings with sculptures made out of sea coral, big oversize lanterns with jewelry and treasure boxes—all to create what she perceives as the Lowcountry style of “comfortable, casual and unique; relaxed but with a touch of luxury.” Although this rings similar to the words of her colleagues at Cocoon and The Roost, there is no competition—only friendly well-wishing.
“I feel like I’m only successful if they’re successful,” said Kelly. “I think we’re all just happy to be here. We’re excited to be women in business, this has been our goal for a long time, and now the moment has come. Bluffton’s growing and there’s a need for a strong shopping area that’s not Tanger Outlets—we’re full of restaurants and now we’re hungry for retail.”
In Kelly’s vision, however, the Promenade is more than just shops—it’s a comprehensive design center. “We have architects, realtors and a builder; we have a landscaping company and a fireplace showroom coming in; we have someone who does cabinetry, appliances and lighting; we have the Garden Gate and shops like Cocoon and The Roost that carry tableware and accessories. I really don’t think you need to go anywhere other than downtown Bluffton to make your house feel like a home, which is great! We have knowledgeable professionals right here, and we all compliment each other. We’ve all embraced the Bluffton vibe, the Lowcountry and what’s trending, and we’re working together to make sure we’re successful as a community.”
Her sentiments are echoed by both Ann Marie and LaCreasa. “I love being part of Old Town,” said Ann Marie. “There’s such a sense of community; like this morning when I got here I ran next door to the Corner Perk and got a chai latte—it’s just this wonderful sense that we’re all here because we love Bluffton, and now we simply want to give people what they need. We all compliment each other and between us we have so much to offer.”
Enjoy the Sights, Tastes, History and Traditions of Beautiful BlufftonTest
Bluffton Promenade in Old Town
Old Town Bluffton, Highway 46 takes you straight into Downtown Bluffton:
This delightful area along the beautiful May River is compact but loaded with Lowcountry charm. Boutiques, art galleries, upscale and casual eats, coffee spots, restored antebellum and post-Civil War homes and churches make this a place you’ll want to spend some quality time. A lively Farmers’ Market takes place every Thursday and has something for everyone to enjoy. Sunday Brunch is another a big happening in Old Town Bluffton. But note that many shops are only open Monday through Saturday, so plan ahead to get the most out of your time there!
Map: Townofbluffton [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons
The May River:
The May River drives the character of Bluffton, named for its location on the river’s north bluff. Its lazy sandbars, docks, shrimp boats, sunsets, wildlife, islands, seafood, and breezes all combine to make Bluffton what some residents consider the “last true coastal village of the South.” There are a number of access points around town, including the Bluffton Calhoun Street Public Dock (113 Calhoun Street) and the Alljoy Boat Landing (265 Alljoy Road).
Bluffton Farmers’ Market, 40 Calhoun Street:
Buy local! Find fresh fruits, veggies, baked goods, flowers and more in a family-friendly, community-oriented environment that showcases local farmers and vendors. See what’s happening around town, get information about local events, enjoy live entertainment and bring your pets! Thursdays from 1 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Bluffton Oyster Company, 63 Wharf Street:
Dive into the best of the Lowcountry’s culinary tradition at the only remaining hand-shucked oyster joint in the state. Established in 1899, this restaurant relies on the local crabs, shrimp, mussels and oysters to feed its patrons. When you’ve had your fill, burn off some of the seafood with a stroll up to the Bluffton Oyster Factory Park, and take in the serene waterfront from the wharf.
Church of the Cross, 110 Calhoun Street:
Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975, this gorgeous Carpenter Gothic-style church features fanned arches, latticed shutters, rose-colored light and exposed pine. Situated atop a bluff of the May River, the Church of the Cross was designed by architect E.B. White and built in 1857. Currently an Episcopal congregation, the church sometimes holds outdoor services at sunrise, and has used the May River itself for baptisms.
Garvin-Garvey Freedman’s Cottage. Photo: Heyward House Museum & Welcome Center Facebook Page
Sometime around 1878, newly freed Cyrus Garvin built this home on the 54 acres he had purchased in 1870. Sitting atop a high bluff overlooking the May River, it is one of very few Reconstruction-era houses belonging to a freedman in this area. The home passed out of family hands in 1961, but was restored in 2016 and is now open to the public. Tours are available Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and by appointment on Fridays.
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Art galleries, cafes and antique shops can all be found in Bluffton's Historic District and make for a pleasurable day of browsing and buying. Interested in antiques and art? Stroll through Old Town Bluffton for a warm, welcoming shopping experience. Looking for the great deals on name brands? Head to Tanger Outlet for endless bargains.
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We always say, “Bluffton is a State of Mind,” but it’s not just a saying around here; it’s a lifestyle and our town’s motto. Why? Because the culture here in the burgeoning town of Bluffton, pulsating from local artists, businesses and residents is something quite different than our counterparts. From rushing waters of the May River to… Read More…
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The 2019 St. Patrick’s Day Parade kicks off on Saturday, March 16 at 10:15 a.m. More than 300,000 people are expected to visit and attend the parade, in which more than 280 floats and marching units will travel through the downtown streets of Savannah. Starting at the corner of Abercorn and Gwinnett Streets and concluding at Bull… Read More…