Beaufort News

The Local Life: Renovation, events heat up summer for historic foundation

This summer is an exciting time for the Historic Beaufort Foundation. We've undertaken the rehabilitation of our building, which was built circa 1910. It served as an early Ford repair shop and later a shop selling coal and wood.

Located directly behind the Verdier House at 208 Scott St., the site is a perfect adjunct to our activities in the Verdier House and will provide proper office space and a resource center for those who want to research our building files and library. Like any preservation project, this one has not been without hiccups, but our goal is to be moved into the building by the middle of September. Once the building is safe for visitors, we'll have an open house so the public can see the work in progress.

We'll host our monthly Dinner and a Lecture on June 27 at the Verdier House. Dr. Eric Poplin, who has extensive experience with cultural resource management studies in the Southeast, is well versed in studies of the prehistoric and historic periods. Poplin will be presenting his lecture "Recent 'Digs' in Beaufort County: The Archaeology of the Yemassee Indians and Combahee Ferry Investigated." He will discuss recent excavations at the site of Altamaha Town in Okatie and data recovered from digs at the Comabahee River on U.S. 17, near the site of the Harriet Tubman Bridge.

The Yemassee were the principal American Indian military and economic allies of Carolina until 1715 when the Yemassee War broke out. Recent excavations at Altamaha Town provide the most complete picture of the material culture of the Yemassee to date. Altamaha Town, mentioned in early documents as the head town of the Lower Yemassee tribe, was home to 1,200 to 1,500 American Indians during Beaufort's earliest development as a town itself, 1695-1715. Archaeological evidence indicates the site was occupied from at least 1500 B.C. to 1715 based on various pottery types recovered during testing and excavations. The site contains at least two pre-Yemassee period burial mounds.

Poplin's research at Altamaha Town revealed that the town was not a compact, easily defensible community as might be expected. It was instead a village composed of dispersed households spaced 75 to 100 meters apart over an area of as much as 125 acres. Approximately 40 houses were once present at Altamaha Town. It was listed in the National Register in 1994.

Combahee Ferry, which has a close connection to local and regional development, witnessed the largest single episode of emancipation that occurred in South Carolina and, possibly, the United States. Investigations associated with the replacement of the U.S 17 bridge and the widening of the highway provide a view of to life at the ferry over three centuries.

Open to foundation members and non-members, the lecture series features a wine and hors d'oeuvres reception from 5:30 to 6 p.m.

The presentation will follow from 6 to 7 p.m. After, a three-course dinner at Saltus River Grill is offered for $19 to lecture attendees. Cost is $15 for members, $25 for member couples; and $20 for non-members, $30 for non-member couples. Reservations: 843-379-3331

Plans are under way for the 2011 Fall Festival of Houses and Gardens in October. We're excited to announce two new special events for this year's festival.

Judith Miller, an internationally acclaimed antiques expert, author and founder of Miller's Antiques Price Guide, will present a lecture titled, "Purchasing Antiques For Historic Interiors," while guests enjoy an elegant luncheon Oct. 21 at the Dataw Island Clubhouse. Miller began collecting in the 1960s and has written more than 100 books.

The community of Spring Island has generously opened the tabby ruins for Fall Festival participants. Beginning at 4 p.m. Oct. 22, guests are invited to spend an afternoon at the tabby ruins, visit the African-American cemetery and view the nearby praise house as well as enjoy a wine and cheese reception. The B.J. Scott Choir of Huspah Baptist Church will perform at the tabby ruins at 4:30 and 5:30 p.m.

Tickets are on sale for the Fall Festival. Details: 843-379-3331,

Julie Good is the executive director of Historic Beaufort Foundation.