The Cole-Heyward House, built as a summer home for a local plantation owner, was constructed circa 1841 and is one of only eight antebellum homes remaining in the Lowcountry coastal town of Bluffton. Located in the heart of Bluffton’s National Register Historic District, next to the breezy bluffs overlooking the May River, this simple timber framed home is an excellent example of the Carolina Farmhouse Style that was brought from the West Indies and made popular from the Colonial period up to the Civil War.
The house was designed by John J. Cole and probably constructed utilizing the labor of his slaves. Built for his young bride, Ester Caroline Corley, the house was a beloved retreat for the family allowing them to escape the heat, insects, and disease of the plantation and to socialize with other planter families during the balmy summer months.
The Heyward House site, with its original slave cabin and summer kitchen, is named for the Heyward family who owned the home from the early 1880s until 1998. George Cuthbert Heyward, grandson of one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Heyward Jr., was the first Heyward to reside in the home. The house demonstrates a home that has been virtually untouched by time; not much has changed, materially speaking, over the past 170 years.
Because of its well-preserved condition, the Heyward House is now an Official Project of the Save America’s Treasures Program, a public-private partnership between the White House Millennium Council and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Operated by the Bluffton Historical Preservation Society, the house-museum also acts as the official Welcome Center for the Town of Bluffton.