Courtesy of The Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce

Old Town Historic District

Once a retreat for wealthy planters seeking refuge from the heat and disease that plagued the Lowcountry plantations throughout the summer months, Bluffton has truly come into its own as a well-established community built upon its storied past. Originally comprised of one square mile and incorporated in 1852, Bluffton was designated a National Register Historic District in 1996.

In the area commonly referred to as the Old Town Bluffton Historic District, the site selection and building styles vary greatly, but the earliest structures were largely influenced by climate, available resources, and popular architectural styles brought to North America by planters from the West Indies. The high bluff along the May River provided a perfect location with shaded lots on high ground, subject to cool river breezes. Simple housing designs emphasized elements like clapboard siding, brick pier foundations and chimneys, and porches, which served not only to temper buildings against sun exposure and gather breezes, but also provide an important social function as outdoor living spaces.

The Town of Bluffton’s Old Town Master Plan, crafted in 2006, serves as a guiding document for future growth and preservation of the Old Town Bluffton Historic District. It sets forth principles to protect the Bluffton National Register Historic District and to help maintain the character and quality of life that the community offers today.

The Old Town Bluffton Historic District was granted National Register Historic District status in 1996 and celebrates more than 80 Contributing Historic Structures. In addition, Bluffton was established as a “Preserve America Community” in 2005. The Town of Bluffton, along with other Preserve America Communities, is committed to preserving and promoting its heritage and shares common goals of strengthening regional identities and local pride, increasing participation in historic preservation, and supporting economic vitality.

The new construction throughout the district complements the historic architecture of the Old Town Bluffton Historic District’s original one square mile.

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