Historic Beaufort Foundation

By Mary Thompson 


Sponsored by the South Carolina Historical Society.

We are pleased to inform you of our next Dinner and a Lecture: Robert Mills: America’s First Native Born Architect. HBF’s lecture series is an opportunity to immerse yourself in a specific aspect of Beaufort and South Carolina history while making a deeper connection with our beautiful city. You are invited to join us as we learn about the life and legacy of Robert Mills, America’s first native-born architect, by lecturer William S. Davies, Jr.

Robert Mills was born in Charleston in 1781 and was the first architect to be entirely trained in the United States. Unlike other architects of this period who trained in Europe, Robert Mills’ style was completely developed out of his experiences within this country and influenced by the topography and character of the nation.

While he is most known for designing the Washington Monument, Robert Mills has been very influential in the architecture of South Carolina. Mills fell in love with architecture early on in his life. He studied under James Hoban and Benjamin Henry Latrobe, gaining extensive knowledge of the Classical Revival style. Before returning to his native South Carolina, Mills designed and worked on many historic buildings in the Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., areas. Later, he moved his family back to South Carolina and worked as the State Architect and Engineer for South Carolina. During this time, he designed 12 courthouses and the state’s asylum. Importantly, it was his training in the Classical Revival style that guided his architectural preferences. He was heavily influenced by Thomas Jefferson and believed the Classical Revival style signified the revitalization of the ancient republics. He further felt that this architecture represented the birth of a new nation following the Revolutionary War.

As we study the life of Robert Mills in a discussion led by William S. Davies, we will uncover the deep ties and impact of the Revolutionary War on the architecture of South Carolina. More importantly, we will have the opportunity to more fully understand the motivations and intentions of one of South Carolina’s most famous architects, as interpreted by well-known historian William S. Davies.

A prominent figure in this field of research, Davies focuses his presentation on Mills’ historic relationships to South Carolina. Davies was a partner of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP for 34 years and practiced law in Columbia, S.C. He earned a Juris Doctorate from the University of South Carolina School of Law after earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the Citadel. Currently, Mr. Davies is a member of the South Carolina Historical Society, the Fort Sumter-Fort Moultrie Historical Trust, the Edisto Island Historic Preservation Society, the South Carolina Archives & History Foundation, the Charleston Museum, the South Carolina State Museum and the Sons of the American Revolution, just to name a few. While his resume is impressive, we will have the opportunity to learn from Mr. Davies in an intimate setting, allowing for questions and conversation.

Please join us on July 26th for a glass of wine, refreshments, and conversation – and enriching experience for the mind and body. Tickets are on sale now for this fabulous event. You can purchase tickets on our website, by phone (842) 379-3331, or by coming into our office at 208 Scotts Street, Beaufort, S.C. We are limiting occupancy, so get your tickets soon! Please also support HBF partner and “Dinner and a Lecture” sponsor Saltus River Grill. Lecture attendees receive a 10% discount on dinner following the lecture when they present their lecture tickets.



Historic Beaufort Foundation

By Mary Thompson 


As you stroll along the streets in Beaufort, South Carolina, the charm and sense of nostalgia are unmistakable. There is something special about Beaufort. Is it the breeze off the water, the tree-lined streets, or the beautiful old homes reminding us of the past? It is the combination of these elements that truly represent Beaufort and it’s unique and idyllic charm.

Combining architectural beauty and its distinct terrain, Beaufort’s city plan was designed to fit the landscape and benefit from the Beaufort River. Beaufort is defined by its coastal setting, strategic location, and the architecture that developed over three centuries. Out of this design, a unique sense of place and a link to the Lowcountry has developed. One of the most defining forms of Beaufort architecture has grown out of this marriage of coastal land and history: the Beaufort Style.

The Beaufort Style is based on five architectural elements that are conventionally found in more rural settings. Different from the rowhouses of Savannah or Single Houses of Charleston, Beaufort homes were built on spacious lots—more like smaller versions of plantations.

 Colonial settlers of Beaufort designed homes with techniques that incorporated the topography and climate of the area—and specifically the South Carolina Lowcountry. Large windows take advantage of the breezes from the water, deep porches provide shade from the hot summer sun, and low-pitched roofs don’t hold onto the heat. But what architectural elements particularly set the Beaufort Style apart from other historic southern architecture?

The Beaufort Style typically employs these architectural elements:

A raised foundation of usually tabby or brick.

Tabby is a type of concrete that is made by combining lime, oyster shells, water, sand, and ash. This was popular foundation used by colonist settlers up and down the coast. A tabby foundation was an extremely popular choice in Beaufort, due to the abundance of oyster shells on the shoreline. Beaufort County has one of the largest collections of tabby structures in the country.

Houses that do not have a tabby foundation, will have a brick foundation. As bricklaying was an art previously known to settlers, it is no surprise that some homes feature this type of foundation.

A southern orientation toward the Beaufort River. Early settlers of Beaufort knew the importance of capturing cool breezes off the river. 

Porticos and piazzas on the southern façade, facing the river and the breeze.

Beauty and function combine with beautiful porticos and piazzas on houses  throughout Beaufort. Shady porches help residents manage the heat, but they also serve as key architectural elements that characterize the Beaufort Style.

Low pitched roofs.

Again, in an effort to beat the heat, colonial settlers focused on low pitched roofs that would prevent the heat from being trapped in the house. This picture of the Tabby Manse House shows this popular roof line.

A T-shaped plan.

The Beaufort “T” first appeared in the late Federal Period and allows for better cross-ventilation in the back area of houses. In 19th century examples, we can see the T-shape design being extended to outdoor spaces. The T-shape was tied to piazzas wrapping around three sides of the house—always on the southern elevation.

A distinctly southern town, Beaufort, South Carolina architecture makes it unique. The Beaufort Style has grown out of a combination of architectural preferences and livability. Large city lots and stately residences  bring the grandeur of plantation  architecture  to the city—a unique combination only found in Beaufort. As observed by Russell Wright in the early 1970’s, “Beaufort houses, free-standing on large lots, are more akin to the architecture of southern plantations of the period, plantations brought into town, than anything found in Charleston or Savannah.”



Historic Beaufort Foundation

By Mary Thompson 


At Historic Beaufort Foundation (HBF) we are extremely grateful to our many patrons and for the generous donations that support our mission to preserve and protect Beaufort’s historic and architectural legacy. Through both one-time and annual donations and gifts, we are able to ensure that Beaufort’s history will not be forgotten.

HBF is proud to be a beneficiary of the Francis and Anne Griswold Trust. This generous and unrestricted gift assists HBF annually in meeting our preservation objectives. Although Francis Hanmer Griswold was originally from New York, he travelled to the southeast to perform research. During those years, Griswold spent time in Beaufort. Of the two novels he authored, one was set in Beaufort and the Carolina Lowcountry, A Sea Island Lady, and chronicled life in Beaufort from 1865 to 1930. Although Griswold moved to California for the remainder of his life, he held a special place in his heart for Beaufort. The Francis and Anne Griswold Trust was established at his death in 2001. The Historic Beaufort Foundation is so thankful to be one of the five non-profits who benefit from this annual benevolent gift.


We are grateful for every donation we receive. If you’re interested in supporting Historic Beaufort Foundation, there are several ways you can be involved!

There are many ways to help preserve Beaufort’s important history. We hope you’ll join us in whatever way works best for your schedule and life. As we look at the important impact that the Francis and Anne Griswold Trust has on maintaining Beaufort’s past, we’re excited at the future potential of similar gifts that will ensure the character of Beaufort endures for generations to come. 

Join us today!



Historic Beaufort Foundation

By Mary Thompson 


The Historic Beaufort Foundation cordially invites you to join us for this year’s annual Spring Architect’s Tour. Taking place on Saturday, March 20, 2021, our annual tour will guide you on a unique journey of Beaufort through examples of both traditional and contemporary architecture, showcasing the creative and distinctive imprint of some of our most accomplished architects. The homes chosen for this year’s tour specifically interpret the Lowcountry in the 21st century. This year, we are featuring properties that have been recently completed and “hard hat” tours of properties under construction.


Beaufort has boasted some of the best of southern architecture since building began here in the 18th century. Today’s local architects continue that tradition of excellence. This year, the tour highlights the work of Allison Ramsey Architects, Frederick and Frederick Architects and Montgomery Architecture & Planning.  Architects, Builders and Contractors will also be onsite to answer questions during the tour, including:  Broad River Construction, Allen Patterson Builders, Howell Builders, Phifer Contracting and TD Commercial Builders.  

Properties included in this year’s tour are located in historic downtown Beaufort, Lady’s Island, Cane Island, St. Helena Island and Fripp Island.

Cara May Cottage

Location: Beaufort Historic District
Architect:  Allison Ramsey Architects
Builder: TD Commercial Builders
Interior Designers: Jeremiah & Emily Smith

This beautiful cottage, full of curb appeal, is similar in size to the original freedman cottages built throughout the North West Quadrant of Beaufort’s Historic District in the late 19th century.

Cane Island Home

Location: Cane Island
Architect: Frederick & Frederick Architects
Builder: Patrick McMichael, Broad River Construction
Builder: Matt Phifer, Phifer Construction
Interior Design: Frederick & Frederick Architects

This home’s custom design provides a more contemporary feel than the traditional Lowcountry style and emphasizes the owner’s desire for a light-filled house with clean lines.

St. Helena Island House

Location: Station Creek
Architect: Montgomery Planning & Architecture
Builder: Allan Howell, Howell Builders
Interior Design: Susan Loeffler

This ultra-modern home sits along the marshes of Station Creek with views to St. Phillips Island, Bay Point, and the mouth of the Port Royal Sound.

Fripp Island Home

Location: Fripp Island
Architect:  Allison Ramsey Architects
Builder: Allen Patterson, Allen Patterson Builders
Interior Designer: Allen Patterson Builders

This custom waterfront house has a great view of the Atlantic Ocean and is high on southern coastal charm. Garden spaces and a pool accent the interior side of the lot, adding to outdoor living opportunities.

Factory Creek Home

Location: Lady’s Island
Architect: Montgomery Planning & Architecture
Builder: Matt Phifer, Phifer Construction

This innovative project is a blend of old and new by reimagining a 1970’s split-level house into a sensitive and sustainable design.

Your safety during this event is a priority. The Historic Beaufort Foundation is mindful of the continuing Covid-19 concerns and will make every effort to ensure that protocols are in place for signage, social distancing, access, masking, hand sanitizer and other necessary precautions. Masks will be required when inside the properties.


Spring Architect’s Tour

Date:  Saturday, March 20, 2021 – rain or shine

Time: 10AM to 4:30PM

Price: $65 per person – Advance Reservations are recommended and available by calling HBF at 843-379-3331 or by visiting this link. The tour is self-paced and self-driven.

This year’s tour sponsors include: Gilbert Law Firm, Broad River Construction, Allen Patterson Builders, Howell Builders, and Phifer Construction

Whether you are a history buff, a lover of architecture, or looking for inspiration for your own home, this year’s architectural tour has something for everyone. Please join us and enjoy this unique opportunity to get a look at some of the most fabulous new architecture in Beaufort.  

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Historic Beaufort Foundation

By Mary Thompson 


Perhaps you’ve driven past the historic John Mark Verdier House and noticed she could use a fresh coat of paint. You aren’t the only one. At the Historic Beaufort Foundation, we have been raising funds to repair and repaint the John Mark Verdier House and are excited to announce that the time for our “Paint the Lady” project is finally here! Work started in the beginning of February and is anticipated to take 8 to 9 weeks.

As a resident (or visitor) of Beaufort, you may know that the John Mark Verdier House is one of the town’s architectural jewels. John Mark Verdier built this house in the center of downtown Beaufort between 1801 and 1805. The house became a symbol of Verdier’s success as a merchant as well as the influence of the Adam brothers on the Beaufort Style of architecture. While the house remained in the ownership of the Verdier family until the 1940s it never served as a private residence after the Civil War but served as commercial space for a wide variety of businesses. Unfortunately, all this change was extremely destructive to the grand historic house. Due to its decline, the building was placed on the city’s demolition list in the mid 1900s. If it weren’t for a group of concerned Beaufort citizens who banded together to save the house from demolition, we would not enjoy the beauty and history of this magnificent house today.

As you may know, the John Mark Verdier House currently operates as a historic house museum. The house will be closed during the renovation. We will be sure to keep you informed as to our progress and projected reopening dates. And, we promise, this preservation project will be worth the wait! With the museum closing for a short time, we are providing an opportunity for you to learn more about this historic property prior to its reopening. We’ve put together videos about the history of the home on our website for you to enjoy by following this link.

What exactly will be happening to the house during the renovation?

Let us give you a glimpse into the preservation process:


Although the John Mark Verdier House dates back to the early 1800s, its current exterior color pattern was based on historic paint color analysis documenting the mid- nineteenth century and evidence from Civil War era photographs.   We are pleased to share that, with continuing assistance from Susan Buck, noted paint color expert, we will return the house to its original ca. 1804 appearance. Instead of the salmon paint color you are used to, we will be taking the house back to its original creamy white exterior color. The rendition below will give you a better idea of what to expect.

Recent research, by Colin Brooker, indicated the tabby foundation was originally covered in a waterproof “cement” invented in London in the 1790’s.  Paint analysis indicated the foundation was then painted a dark brown and scored (a technique also known as penciling) to appear as it was ashlar stone.  This type of faux painting was typical of the Federal Period of architecture.   Historic Beaufort Foundation is excited that the new research will guide the renovation paint scheme.


To begin with, the house will be hand scraped and hand painted and damaged or deteriorating wood will be replaced on the exterior of the building. The preservation team will go to painstaking effort to match the historic nature of the building, The repair process will likely be slow as we follow appropriate preservation practices and due to the age of the building. Extra care must be taken to ensure no further damage is caused.

Do you want to be a part of this amazing effort? You still have the opportunity to assist us in preserving Beaufort’s architectural history! While we have secured enough funding for this extensive renovation project to move forward, we are still raising funds to ensure the completion of the renovation. You can visit our website at to make a donation or find more information about our preservation plans. Help us “Paint the Lady” and bring back the grandeur of our beloved John Mark Verdier House.