Beaufort, South Carolina is a Southern town on Port Royal Island full of National Register Historic Sites. Founded in 1711, Beaufort is the second oldest town in South Carolina. It’s named after Henry Somerset, Duke of Beaufort who was one of the Lord proprietors of the Carolinas. The town has been the center of many wars and one of the original American cities. Here are some things to do in Beaufort to learn more about its role in American history.
Beaufort National Cemetery
The Beaufort National Cemetery is a Civil War cemetery that holds the remains of thousands of soldiers from every major American war. It became a national cemetery after Abraham Lincoln’s National Cemetery Act in 1863. It was originally a cemetery for soldiers who died in Union hospitals. In 1997, the cemetery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. As you walk through the cemetery, you’ll see monuments such as the Union Soldiers monument dedicated to unknown soldiers and The Blue Star monument dedicated to those who have served.
Built sometime around 1805, this former plantation house is now an Inn that you can stay in during your Beaufort vacation. The Cuthbert House Inn was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. It was home to General Rufus Saxton during the Civil War. During Saxton’s stay, several young soldiers came and went and left their signatures on one of the mantel’s that you can still see today.
John Mark Verdier House
This prominent Beaufort landmark was built in 1804. John Mark Verdier was a successful cotton and indigo merchant that rose to wealth in the 1800s. The iconic home was a headquarters for Union troops during the Civil War and gives visitors a view of what life was like for Beaufort’s richest. It is the only historic planter’s house in Beaufort open to the public.
Saint Helena Island
Saint Helena Island has several historic houses and landmarks that show what life was like in the rural parts of South Carolina’s Lowcountry. It’s home to one of the first schools for the children of freed slaves and is where the cottage is located where Martin Luther King Jr. drafted his “I have a dream speech.” You can walk around and view historic sites like the Plantation House, Napoleon’s properties, Jacob’s ladder, and Diana’s Peak National Park.
Part of Beaufort’s haunted history tour, The Castle was built in 1859 as a home for Dr. Joseph Johnson. It gets its name because of its medieval style and grand decor. It is rumored that the ghost of a dwarf named Gauche roams the grounds. The apparition has appeared as far back as when Johnson lived in the house.