Beaufort News

Kiosks planned to guide visitors around old town Bluffton

Bluffton visitors should have an easier time finding their way around old town's shops, restaurants and galleries starting later this year.

Town planners' designs for 12 informational kiosks should be completed next month and installed by summer, according to Katie Woodruff, a town neighborhood preservation planner.

Each kiosk will feature a map of old town that points out public parks, historic churches, public restrooms, river access and the Heyward House Visitor's Center. Each will be customized with illustrations and text describing parts of Bluffton's history. The history text is the last part planners are piecing together, Woodruff wrote in an e-mail.

The kiosks are part of a larger project that will include directional signs for pedestrians and new street signs, Woodruff wrote.

Planners haven't decided exactly where the kiosks will go, she said. The project is funded by a $105,000 grant the town received two years ago from the National Park Service.

For local potter Jacob Preston, the signs and kiosks are long overdue.

Preston said most tourists who find his studio on Church Street do so by accident.

"They say, 'Oh, we just wandered around until we found you, because we didn't know where to go,' " he said.

The town held meetings last year to get public input on the kiosks' shapes and colors and the historical places they should feature. Planners also sought advice from the Historic Preservation Commission and a sign steering committee.

Woodruff said the grant requirements, design work and community input added time to the project.

Laura Silberman, the Old Town Merchant's Society representative on the steering committee, said the kiosks also will point the way to self-directed walking tours that visitors and residents alike will enjoy.

"They can look at all the different areas ... and learn a little bit about the history," she said.