The residents of Bluffton have joined together to write a book entitled, A Decision to Stay, which includes these notable words ... “Being a Blufftonian is a rite of passage. Membership requires a unique appreciation for life and community and devotion to kinship, where blood ties are as strong as the currents of the May River, and friendship loyalties are as predictable as her tides.”
The town of Bluffton is situated on a high bluff, overlooking the pristine May River, source of the world-famous Bluffton oysters.
This historic riverfront community still welcomes visitors with as much charm and vibrancy as it did in its antebellum heyday.
The town was incorporated in 1852, just in time for the Civil War to take its toll. First it was raided and scavenged by Union forces occupying nearby Hilton Head Island.
Then, it was shelled and burned in 1863. There were 17 structures that escaped destruction, including the Heyward House and the Church of the Cross.
Maureen Richards is Executive Director of the Heyward House, which now serves as the official tourism center, as well as offering a charming example of a Carolina farmhouse design.
“Located on the May River, Bluffton is naturally beautiful, charming, eclectic... and so are the folks who live here,” she said. “Its one square mile, nationally registered historic district is part of a walkable community with shops, restaurants, art galleries, and a farmers market (on Thursdays). Old Town Bluffton is the perfect day trip from Hilton Head Island, Beaufort and Savannah. And it's a wonderful place to live, offering homes in neighborhoods with different levels of amenities at a variety of price points.”
Ms. Richards explained that recent annexations have increased the town from 1 to over 60 SM and from 500 to over 12K residents. These lands are being developed for residential, commercial and civic uses. Preservation of the Old Town and environmental conservation of the May River are being addressed so that these important resources continue to attract visitors and residents alike.
For Mayor Lisa Sulka, The protection of the May River continues to be the driving force behind her commitment to the town. “Our establishment of the May River Watershed Action Plan as well as the technical advisory committee aim to enact the next steps in keeping our May River healthy,” she said, adding, “The May River is Bluffton’s major amenity and asset that is celebrated throughout the town, county and region.”
One newer community is Palmetto Bluff. Another is Island West, developed by D.R. Horton. For architect Mike Kronimus, it was an excellent choice for his new family. “I’m from New York, and my wife is from New Jersey,” he explains.
“We liked the colonial farmhouse style, the community center, golf course and four-minute commute.” Recently, his parents decided to take the plunge as well, and have moved down from Long Island. One appealing factor is the proximity to the new University of South Carolina Beaufort-New River campus. For younger students, Bluffton High School has plans for an integrated high-tech communications system that will link with the University and Technical College of the Lowcountry.
Savannah is thirty minutes away, with its lively arts scene and culture. Across the bridge, Hilton Head Island beckons with its world-class restaurants and famous harbor.
Back in the old town near the river, the pace slows to a welcome stroll, as visitors and residents enjoy the art and antique galleries, Riverfront Pocket Park and Garden, and the oldest continuous oyster-shucking facility in South Carolina. Whatever you do, don’t forget to sample the famous bivalves with their briny, salty, slurpy flavor.
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