A stroll through Beaufort's Point neighborhood is a walk through History
Through the many years and wars, The Point has kept its charm and beauty. It is still home to some of the most beautiful houses in the South, and it holds the key to Beaufort’s majestic antebellum era.
The Point neighborhood of historic downtown Beaufort was once known as Black’s Point. This neighborhood for many years was considered to be outside of the city boundaries even though its commercial and residential construction began in Beaufort’s early years. There are a few of these homes that have survived the years that still sit on The Point. The Thomas Hepworth House (circa 1717) and the William Johnson House (circa 1776) are absolutely splendid examples of the early days of the Point.
At the beginning of the Revolutionary War, a gentleman named James Black-owned and operated a prosperous shipbuilding enterprise on The Point. He acquired the majority of the property from a man named Thomas Middleton. Most shipbuilding businesses at the time were small and manned by journeymen and other carpenters that set up shop at different places along the coast. Black’s enterprise was very different. It was the only stable enterprise in the region. Some of the ships built by Black’s shipyard were the Ashley Cooper and Georgetown. It is believed that his shipyard was located on the block around Pinckney, Federal and Hamilton streets and with the Beaufort River bordering the southern edge. The Lowcountry Live Oak was the choice of building materials in those times, and the South Carolina Lowcountry furnished ships for international trade.
The Revolution changed that for Beaufort, South Carolina
Black died during the war and shipbuilding slowed. When Black died in 1770 he owned the majority of The Point. His property and his shipyard likely sat on a tidal creek that ran through the area. All the property was divided among his heirs and broke into smaller tracks for development.
At the turn of the 19th century there stood a large number of houses on the Point. The Chaplin House at 712 New Street, The Hex-Sams
House at 207 Hancock Street, and the Elizebeth Barnwell Gough House at 705 Washington Street. Beaufort’s mayor at the time saw the development and urged the State Assembly to extend the city limits to include Black’s Point. In 1809 the South Carolina General Assembly approved for the city to include Black’s Point, and at that time the city planned out the area and named the streets. The new streets looked amazingly like the grid already in place for the town.
Later, it became a place where many of the plantation owners on Lady’s or St. Helena Islands built homes for the “social season,” moving closer to town around May and staying through about November, mostly to escape the oppressive summer heat. During the occupation of Beaufort in the Civil War era, The Point was home to many Union hospitals. The famous Castle was used as an African American hospital.
Through the many years and wars, The Point has kept its charm and beauty. It is still home to some of the most beautiful houses in the South, and it holds the key to Beaufort’s majestic antebellum era. Below are a few recent photos we took while strolling through the Point. We hope you enjoy and will visit soon as well!
The Historic Beaufort Foundation has been the primary advocate for historic preservation in the region for over 50 years. Please join us and support our efforts to maintain the city’s architectural heritage.