Beaufort celebrates its first 300 years

astice@islandpacket.comDecember 31, 2011 

As the final hours of 2011 crept toward the New Year, the city of Beaufort looked back on 300 years of history.

Founders Night II, held at the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park, honored the city's history with music and readings.

The event served as bookend to the first Founder's Night, held in January, and capped off a year of events celebrating the city's tricentennial with - literally - a bang: a fireworks display over the Beaufort River as dusk set in.

The program included songs that took the audience through the years since the city's charter was signed in 1711, with performances by Marlena Smalls, choirs from Tabernacle Baptist, Carteret Street United Methodist and First Presbyterian churches, Sumitra Stewart and the Delbert Felix trio.

Residents Anita Singleton-Prather, Bill Harvey Jr. and Jeff Evans presented short readings about milestones in the city's history and its growth over three centuries.

The event helped Beaufort 300 organizers make a final push for donations to place memorials in the park. The goal is to find 300 donors willing to give $300 each to install a new monument in the park in honor of the tricentennial milestone.

Beaufort Tricentennial Committee chairwoman Erin Dean said organizers had about 20 spots left to fill. Sponsors' names will be on the monument, and the final design will be unveiled early this year, said Beaufort councilman Mike McFee.

There will be other plenty of things to look forward in Beaufort's 301st yearl, said Kristopher Ayers, who brought a lawnchair to take in the festivities.

The Beaufort High School football team is expected to be strong, Ayers said, and Battery Creek High School students will complete their first year of military science curriculum -- an important extension of the military presence that has defined the city's recent history.

In the next year, Dean is looking forward to the Boundary Street redevelopment and welcoming new industries to the city.

And what does she expect for Beaufort in the next 100 years?

"Hopefully by the next century, we'll have a great solution to the downtown parking situation," she joked.

Follow reporter Allison Stice at

Related content:

Beaufort to hold one last tricentennial party for New Year's Eve, Dec. 30, 2011

300th anniversary monument plans gear up as year winds down, Oct. 8, 2011

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