Why is Bluffton’s Welcome Center is located in the Heyward House?
There are a number of reasons. The house was constructed circa 1841 and is one of only eight antebellum homes remaining in the Lowcountry coastal town of Bluffton. It sits in the heart of Bluffton’s National Register Historic District, overlooking to the Bluffton’s natural gem, the May River. The last remaining slave cabin in Bluffton still resides on the property.
It was built in 1841 in the early Carolina Farmhouse style brought to North America by planters from the West Indies. The north parlor and the bedroom above, were the first parts of the house built by John J. Cole and his slaves in the early 1840s as a summer home for his wife Carolina Corley and their children.
John J. Coles’ plantation was approximately 10 miles from downtown Bluffton.
His father-in-law owned Moreland Plantation, located on present day Palmetto Bluff. By 1860, Cole had more than doubled the size of the house and his family, at which time the front and side windows in the front rooms were replaced with larger windows. The original parlor windows were reused in the dining room and back bedroom. The interior is clad with wide heart pine boards.
The original unattached summer kitchen was moved to the rear of the property when a large square attached kitchen was added to the main house in the 1930s. Beetles damaged the original summer kitchen and the structure was reconstructed with original and new wood.
Following the Civil War, Mr. Cole died after contracting tuberculosis during his service. The Cole family sold their holdings in Bluffton and moved to Texas in 1874.
Mrs. Kate Du Bois, wife of the federally appointed Post Master, purchased the property then sold it in 1882 to Mrs. George Cuthbert Heyward, Sr.
George Cuthbert Heyward, grandson of one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Heyward Jr., was the first Heyward family to reside in the home. The Heyward House has been virtually untouched by time; not much has changed, materially speaking, over the past 179 years. It remained in the Heyward family until its purchase in 1998 by the Bluffton Historical Preservation Society. It is now preserved and open to the public as the town’s only house museum. Designated as the official welcome center for the Town of Bluffton, it is located at 70 Boundary St.