In a unanimous vote at its March 14 meeting, Bluffton Town Council authorized the town manager to execute a purchase and an operating agreement for the historic property located at 111 Calhoun St. The vote followed another unanimous vote by Beaufort County Council on March 13 to assist the town in funding the purchase through its Rural and Critical Lands Preservation Program.
The $1.5 million purchase price will be evenly split by Bluffton and the county, with the town assuming primary responsibility for operation and maintenance of the property. The property, situated at the south end of Calhoun Street, on the river adjacent to the Calhoun Street Public Dock and across the street from The Church of the Cross, is both historically and culturally significant. The Squire Pope Carriage House, built circa 1850, sits on the property and is one of the very few structures in the Bluffton Historic District to survive the 1863 “Burning of Bluffton” by the Union Army during the Civil War.
Future plans for the property involve converting it into a passive park to provide additional public access to the May River for Bluffton residents and visitors. The town also expects to rehabilitate the Squire Pope Carriage House, similar to how it has restored the soon-to-be unveiled Garvin House at nearby Oyster Factory Park. The town will use hospitality tax revenue and other town funds for its $750,000 share of the purchase cost.