The Heyward House is a bustling center of activity for the town of Bluffton, South Carolina. Housing the welcome center and museum, as well as the home to multiple types of tours, the house is educational as well as being fun. Built in 1841, using the early Carolina Farmstead architectural style made popular by West Indies transplants to the area, the house was originally used by John Cole, his wife Carolina, and their children as a summer home.
By 1860, the house and plantation had doubled in size. Eventually, in 1930, the kitchen was remodeled and modernized.
When Cole died of tuberculosis after the Civil War, the family sold the property and moved in 1874 to Texas. The house then passed through multiple families until finally falling into the hands of the historical society in 1998. It has functioned as the only house museum in the town as well as being given the title of “official” welcome center of Bluffton.
The first stop for visitors wanting to learn more about the Heyward House and Museum as well as the entire town of Bluffton is to stop at the welcome center. The welcome center holds a wealth of information about the town, including maps, menus, brochures, and other information to really see the very best parts of the area. The welcome center staff is also available to answer questions and give directions.
From the Heyward House, there are multiple options for tours that can be booked.
- Guided tours of the house and the surrounding grounds are available Mondays through Fridays from 10am to 4pm and Saturdays from 10am to 3pm. Reservations are not mandatory unless the group who plans to tour consists of more than 10 people. House tours last around an hour. There is a cost per adult, with a 50% discount for students and free for children under 10 and historical society members
- Virtual docents are available for visitors who want a little more guidance but still want to be able to go at their own pace. Done via a set of the houses’ “walking tour” cards, each historical site on the tour has its own card. Simply scan that card using the Zappar app (which is free on both iPhone and Android phones) and listen to Ms. South Carolina (Senior America) Dianne Gibb describe the history. There a flat fee for access to the cards.
- After a tour of the house, head out on the town with a guided walking tour. Offered Mondays through Fridays by appointment only and lasting just over an hour, reservations must be made at least two days in advance. There is a fee for each adult talking the tour, with a discount for students.
? For a more unique tour, consider paying the flat fee for the “living portrait” self-guided tour. Making use of the same Zappar app that is used for the self-guided walking tour, the living portrait tour allows visitors to scan specific portraits that are located in the Heyward House, which allows them to spring to life to tell guests in their own words about their personal story and the room that they are located in.
The welcome center is open Mondays through Thursdays from 10am to 5pm, and Fridays from 10am to 4pm. Admission and parking is always offered free of charge.
The Heyward House loves to lead students on educational field trips through the house and its surrounding grounds. Offering what they call “School Day” programs, the house staff helps students have an interactive educational experience. Each School Day educational program, offers several stations that are arranged throughout the house and grounds to teach students about the interesting history of the town of Bluffton and its surrounding areas.
The stations offered for School Days are: Bluffton History, Archaeology, Life in the 1800’s, Summer Kitchen, and Slave Cabin. Contact the staff for more information ahead of a planned field trip to help plan curriculum.
Students can bring their own sack lunches with them on the field trip and enjoy a picnic at nearby Dubois Park or at the May River. However, there is no place to keep lunches cold at the house, so food should be non-refrigerated. Bus parking is available on-site.
Located in the kitchen addition of the house is a gift shop with a selection of various books, toys, food, clothing, and other gifts and souvenirs. Check out the books about the history of the town and the house, take home some loose-leaf tea, purchase a handmade Christmas tree ornament, or grab a cookbook with historic recipes. Purchases help to support the welcome center, house, and museum.
Heyward House, 70 Boundary St, Bluffton, SC, 29910, Phone: 843-757-6293