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City of Beaufort
—  City  —
Location of Beaufort, South Carolina
Coordinates: 32°25′55″N 80°41′22″W / 32.43194°N 80.68944°W / 32.43194; -80.68944Coordinates: 32°25′55″N 80°41′22″W / 32.43194°N 80.68944°W / 32.43194; -80.68944
Country United States
State South Carolina
County Beaufort
Incorporated 1711
 - Mayor Billy Keyserling
 - City 23.4 sq mi (60.7 km2)
 - Land 18.6 sq mi (48.2 km2)
 - Water 4.8 sq mi (12.5 km2)
Elevation 10 ft (3 m)
Population (2000)
 - City 12,950
 Density 695.7/sq mi (268.6/km2)
 Urban 46,227
 Metro 66,308
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP codes 29901-29907
Area code(s) 843
FIPS code 45-04690[1]
GNIS feature ID 1245003[2]

Beaufort is a city in and the county seat of Beaufort County, South Carolina, United States.[3] Chartered in 1711, it is the second-oldest city in South Carolina, behind Charleston. The city's population was 12,950 in the 2000 census (46,227 total pop. of Beaufort Urban Cluster). It is located in the Hilton Head Island-Beaufort Micropolitan Area.

Beaufort (pronounced /ˈbjuːfərt/ BEW-fərt, unlike its counterpart in North Carolina) is located on Port Royal Island, in the heart of the Sea Islands and Lowcountry. The city is renowned for its scenic location and for maintaining a historic character through its impressive antebellum architecture. The city is also known for its military establishments, being located in close proximity to Parris Island and a U.S. Naval Hospital, in addition to being home of the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.

The city has been featured in the New York Times, named "Best Small Southern Town" by Southern Living, named a "Top 25 Small City Arts Destination" by American Style, and a "Top 50 Adventure Town" by National Geographic Adventure.[4]



The Lowcountry region had been subject to numerous European explorations and several aborted attempts at colonization before the British successfully founded the city in 1711. The city initially grew slowly, subject to numerous attacks from Native American tribes and threats of Spanish invasion before flourishing as a center for shipbuilding and later in the antebellum period as the aristocratic center for the Lowcountry plantation economy up through the Civil War.

Several months after hostilities began between the states, Beaufort was occupied by Union forces following the Battle of Port Royal. Due in part to its early occupation, the city became a center of emancipation efforts for newly freed slaves during the war and into Reconstruction. After the war, the city relied on phosphate mining before a devastating hurricane in 1893 and a fire in 1907 brought economic turmoil and stagnant growth to the city for nearly half a century. The community rebounded in the later half of the 20th century due to the growth of the military presence and the development of tourism. In spite of new development, Beaufort has retained much of its historic character through its renowned architecture and historic preservation efforts.


Beaufort is located at 32°25′55″N 80°41′22″W / 32.43194°N 80.68944°W / 32.43194; -80.68944 (32.431853, -80.689515)[5].

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city is amid a marshy estuary, and has a total area of 23.4 square miles (60.7 km²), of which, 18.6 square miles (48.2 km²) of it is land and 4.8 square miles (12.5 km²) of it (20.57%) is water. The majority of the city is situated upon Port Royal Island, an interior Sea Island that the city shares with neighboring Port Royal and unincorporated portions of Beaufort County. The city has also annexed lands across the Beaufort River onto Lady's Island.


Downtown Beaufort as seen from the Woods Memorial Bridge.

Historic District

Homes in the Old Point neighborhood

The original settlement of Beaufort can be found in the downtown or historic district area. 304 acres (1.23 km2) of the town have been designated a National Historic Landmark. With approximate dimensions, downtown is defined as anything upon the peninsula jutting into the Beaufort River that is located east of Ribaut Road (US 21). Further defined, downtown is broken into five distinct neighborhoods: Downtown (the commercial core), The Point (also known as the Old Point), The Bluff, The Old Commons, and the Northwest Quadrant.

Other residential areas

As the city expanded in the 20th century, additional growth focused on previously undeveloped areas north and west of the historic district. Much of the growth can be attributed to the increased military influence during the 1940s and 1950s, in which Beaufort's population doubled as a result of new military personnel and families moving to the area. These areas have since become integral parts of the city and today are home to the majority of the residents in the city.

The Pigeon Point neighborhood is located immediately north of Downtown Beaufort and is bound on the west by the Beaufort National Cemetery. It is centered around two major city parks: Pigeon Point Community Park and the Basil Green Recreation Complex. An area with smaller homes and mostly one-story early 20th century structures, Pigeon Point has experienced a renewal of development interest, with many homes being "flipped" or renovated in recent years.

The West End and Depot neighborhoods are located west of Ribaut Road, south of Boundary Street and north of the Technical College of the Lowcountry campus. These areas been the focus of recent redevelopment efforts. Formerly concentrated around the Beaufort rail station (the depot), the neighborhoods have similar characteristics to the Pigeon Point area and have a sizable number of military families as residents.

The Spanish Point neighborhood is located between Downtown and Mossy Oaks, generally considered to be clustered around the Technical College of the Lowcountry campus and the Beaufort Memorial Hospital. Several upscale residential streets are typical characteristics of this area.

The Mossy Oaks neighborhood is at the southern edge of the city limits (along the border of Port Royal), generally considered to be south of the Technical College of the Lowcountry campus and the Beaufort Memorial Hospital. There are some commercial establishments in the area in addition to residential neighborhoods ranging from apartments to smaller single-family homes and duplexes.

Portions of Lady's Island have been annexed by Beaufort, though the city does not have complete jurisdiction of the entire island. Most of the incorporated areas are upscale residential communities. Both Beaufort High School and the Beaufort County Airport are located on the island.

Other non-residential areas

Once the outer edge of town, the areas along Boundary Street (US Highway 21), Robert Smalls Parkway (SC Highway 170), and Ribaut Road now serve as Beaufort's major commercial corridors. Several major shopping centers and dining establishments are prevalent in all three areas. Beyond shopping and dining, Ribaut Road has numerous medical offices clustered near Beaufort Memorial Hospital. Boundary Street and Robert Smalls Parkway have several lodging facilities and auto dealerships as prevailing business types. Boundary Street is subject to change its appearance over the coming years due in part to a major redevelopment plan approved by the city in 2008 and supported via tax increment financing.

Uptown Beaufort refers to a series of mostly commercial properties along Boundary Street, which separates the historic district from the Pigeon Point neighborhood. Uptown is not formally considered a neighborhood on its own, yet merchants have created a unique identity to market the commercial area separately from downtown merchants clustered on Bay Street.

Beaufort Town Center is a recent term given to a series of developments along Boundary Street located west of the historic district and Pigeon Point that is clustered near the Beaufort County government complex and the City of Beaufort's municipal complex construction site. Though much of the area (and the term) is owned by a single developer, many of Beaufort's commercial properties and administrative uses have moved to this area.

The Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort was annexed into the city in the 1990s, expanding the city limits northward near the unincorporated Seabrook community. Previous attempts at bringing large-scale residential development north of the air station were defeated after protests from long-time citizens and environmental advocacy groups.



Beaufort's printed daily newspaper is The Beaufort Gazette. The Beaufort area also has a weekly printed newspaper known as The Island News, an alternative newsweekly called Lowcountry Weekly[1] and online newspapers including The Beaufort Bulletin and The Beaufort Tribune.

Several radio stations have transmission feeds originating or duplicating in Beaufort or locations just outside the city, such as Parris Island. Beaufort has one local television station, WJWJ-TV (PBS). Beaufort is part of the Savannah, Georgia Designated Market Area, and additionally receives Charleston television stations.

Books and film

Beaufort has been the setting or the inspirational setting for several novels by native son Pat Conroy, and a popular filming location for major motion pictures, including The Big Chill, The Prince of Tides, The Great Santini, Forrest Gump, Something To Talk About and G.I. Jane. Lady's Island and the slave trade is the subject of an award winning novel by Lawrence Hill, The Book of Negroes (a/k/a Someone Knows My Name).

Tourism and events

The Beaufort Shrimp Festival is one of several popular annual events in the Henry Chambers Waterfront Park

Beaufort is a romantic and popular tourist destination known for its history. Major festivals and arts events include the Water Festival, a two-week extravaganza in the middle of July, the Shrimp Festival, celebrating the local and traditional industry, is in the first weekend in October. In 2007, The Beaufort Shrimp Festival was selected as one of the Southeast Tourism Society's Top 20 Events.[4] The Beaufort International Film Festival held the first week of March screens independent films, such as Brats. A Taste of Beaufort, presented by Main Street Beaufort, is held on the first Saturday in May and features 20 local restaurants, fine wines and live music. Historic Beaufort Foundation's Fall Tour of Homes and St. Helena's Spring Tour of Homes provide glimpses into the beautiful antebellum homes on the Point and local plantations. Hunting Island is nearby and the state's most visited state park. For more information on all events and visiting the area, please contact the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center.

The arts

The steeple of St. Helena's Episcopal Church

Beaufort has been named by some sources as one of "America's Best Art Towns", including being ranked the #14 Small City Arts Destination by American Style Magazine in 2008 and one of America's top 100 art towns by author John Villani in his 2005 book "The 100 Best Art Towns in America: A Guide to Galleries, Museums, Festivals, Lodging and Dining" .[4] Close to 20 galleries operate within the City with hundreds of local residents contributing to the arts scene.

The University of South Carolina–Beaufort has a performing arts center which attracts regional and national acts to the community.

The Arts Council of Beaufort County[2], nurtures the arts via ARTworks, its 12,000 square foot community arts center, theater, and gallery in Beaufort Town Center (2127 Boundary Street, 29902) that also includes the studios of working artists, Coastal Art Supply, and spaces for worshops, classes, and conferences, as well as an afterschool program. The arts council promotes the arts with original theater productions, community arts grants, the Get Your Art Out emerging artist initiative, ArtNews, a print magazine, and the Detour for the Arts online calendar for arts events county-wide.

Sports and recreation

Through Beaufort County's Recreation Department, junior and intramural athletics are sponsored year-round. Activities include football, basketball, baseball, softball, soccer, and cheerleading.

The local area provides excellent opportunities for golf, fishing, and kayaking.

In February 2008, Field and Stream Magazine rated Beaufort as one of the top 20 fishing towns in the United States in an article which factored in cost, attractions, distractions, seasons, and fishing action. Beaufort was also named as a "Top 50 Adventure Town" and the #7 Waterfront Adventure Town by National Geographic Adventure .[4]


The city is home to many Christian denominations, with several churches located in the downtown area and throughout the area. St. Helena's Episcopal Church in downtown Beaufort was founded in 1712 and is the oldest church in the city. Other churches of note include the Baptist Church of Beaufort, the Tabernacle Baptist Church, the Carteret Street United Methodist Church, the First Presbyterian Church, and the First African Baptist Church, all with extensive histories and renowned architecture. Beth Israel Congregation is also in the downtown area, adjacent to the Beaufort Arsenal and Museum.


Downtown businesses are clustered along Bay Street, adjacent to the Henry Chambers Waterfront Park

The location of the City to other fast growing areas including Hilton Head Island, and Bluffton as well as good access to Savannah, Georgia, the Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport, and a future container port to be built on the Savannah River make the city a desirable choice for residential and business development opportunity.

Beaufort has several geographic areas of economic activity. The downtown area is the historical center of commerce and is now primarily focused towards visitors, tourists. Much of the day-to-day service businesses for locals has moved along the Boundary Street corridor, the Robert Smalls Parkway corridor, or towards Lady's Island. There are several areas with limited industrial uses that exist primarily in the northwestern sections of the city, close to the intersection of Boundary Street with Robert Smalls Parkway.

The largest economic sector in Beaufort is tourism and hospitality, which has supplanted agriculture and aquaculture in the last decades of the 20th century. Nearly 2 million visitors a year come to Beaufort and the Sea Islands of northern Beaufort County, with summer and fall seasons being peak times. The primary attractions of these visitors include golf and beach vacations, history, watersports, and local arts and crafts. As a result, Beaufort is home to many options of accommodations ranging from upscale bed-and-breakfasts in the downtown area to standard motels and inns along Boundary Street. There are several dozen dining establishments in the city that cater to locals and tourists alike.

Beaufort's other major dominant economic sector comes from the military presence in and around the community, which provide thousands of jobs and pump in millions of dollars into the local economy. Other sectors of note are agriculture/aquaculture, government, and retail.


As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 12,950 people, 4,598 households, and 3,034 families residing in the city. The population density was 695.7 people per square mile (268.7/km²). There were 5,080 housing units at an average density of 272.9/sq mi (105.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 69.41% White, 25.14% African American, 0.32% Native American, 1.07% Asian, 0.12% Pacific Islander, 1.98% from other races, and 1.96% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.39% of the population.

There were 4,598 households out of which 31.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.6% were married couples living together, 14.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.0% were non-families. 28.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.37 and the average family size was 2.90.

In the city the population was spread out with 21.6% under the age of 18, 19.5% from 18 to 24, 28.9% from 25 to 44, 17.8% from 45 to 64, and 12.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females there were 114.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 117.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $36,532, and the median income for a family was $42,894. Males had a median income of $22,465 versus $23,474 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,501. About 11.5% of families and 13.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.3% of those under age 18 and 11.1% of those age 65 or over.

Beaufort is the center of an urban cluster with a total population of 46,227 (2000 census), comprising the city and its surrounding towns and unincorporated areas including Port Royal, Burton, Lady's Island, Shell Point, Laurel Bay, and Parris Island, among others.

Beaufort is also part of the larger Hilton Head Island-Beaufort Micropolitan Statistical Area which includes Beaufort and Jasper counties and had a total population of 159,247 in 2005 (U.S. Census Bureau estimate). According to the more detailed data available in the 2000 census, the population included in this micropolitan area (which actually was designated after the census itself) was 64% urban and 36% rural. It included the urban clusters of Beaufort (2000 pop.: 46,227), Hilton Head Island (34,400), Bluffton (6,136), and Ridgeland (3,585).


Beaufort is classified as a "city" according to the South Carolina Secretary of State. The city is governed by a five member city council under the council-manager form of government. The current mayor is Billy Keyserling (term ends 2012). The other council members include Donnie Ann Beer (term ends 2010), Mike Sutton (term ends 2010), Gary Fordham (term ends 2012) and Mike McFee (term ends 2012). Council members serve on staggered four-year terms. The day-to-day operations are handled through a City Manager and city staff. The city manager is Scott Dadson.

In October 2007, voters approved $15 million in bonds to finance two new municipal buildings at the intersection of Boundary Street and Ribaut Road to replace aging and cramped facilities. In 2008, a new police headquarters and courthouse was opened, with completion of a new City Hall expected in 2010. The City of Beaufort owns or leases additional facilities throughout the City. The City of Beaufort provides police, fire, parks, planning, and other governmental functions. Water, sewer, sanitation, recycling, and landscaping services are outsourced to local companies.

Recent trends have shown Beaufort to seek closer inter-governmental cooperation with neighboring jurisdictions, especially in community and regional planning. The city and the Town Port Royal appoint members to a joint planning commission to hear cases in both jurisdictions. Both municipalities have expressed interests in collaborating with Beaufort County on regional planning initiatives.



Public K–12 education is administered by the Beaufort County School District, which was established in the 1860s and legally completed desegregation in 1970. There are also several private schools located in the city and surrounding area. Schoolchildren in the city attend the following public and private schools:

Elementary schools Middle schools High schools Private/Charter schools
Beaufort Elementary School Beaufort Middle School Battery Creek High School Agape Christian Academy
Broad River Elementary School Lady's Island Middle School Beaufort High School Beaufort Academy (Lady's Island)
Coosa Elementary School Robert Smalls Middle School Whale Branch High School (opening 2010) Beaufort Christian School
Joseph Shanklin Elementary School Whale Branch Middle School St. Peter's Catholic School
Lady's Island Elementary School Eleanor Christensen Montessori School
Port Royal Elementary School Thomas Heyward Academy (Jasper County)
Mossy Oaks Elementary School Trinity Classical Academy
Shell Point Elementary School Riverview Charter School
Whale Branch Elementary School

Higher education

Three local institutions comprise the current extent of higher education in the Beaufort area. Both the University of South Carolina Beaufort Main Campus and the Technical College of the Lowcountry Beaufort Campus are located within the city limits. Clemson University also operates a university extension office in the city with ecological and agricultural programs.

Libraries and museums

The Beaufort area has close to 70 sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places, in addition to the downtown area being listed as a historic district. The Verdier House at 901 Bay Street is one of the oldest homes in the city and the only home open to the public that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Located in downtown, the Beaufort County Library serves residents of Beaufort and northern Beaufort County. Additional branches are found elsewhere in the county. The University of South Carolina Beaufort also has a campus library, located in the original Beaufort College building.


Major roads

The following thoroughfares are important transportation links in Beaufort.

US 21.svg U.S. Highway 21, is the major connector through the city and the principal route to the Sea Islands. It is also known as Trask Parkway west of the SC 170 intersection, Boundary Street, and Ribaut Road. Originally going through downtown and across the Robert Woods Memorial Bridge, US 21 was rerouted to the south upon the completion of the taller and wider J.E. McTeer Bridge in the 1980s. US 21 is also the major hurricane evacuation route for the area.

Business plate.svg
US 21.svg Business U.S. Highway 21, also known locally as "Business 21" is the major arterial through downtown Beaufort. Starting at the US 21 split, the route travels eastward along Boundary Street to the Bellamy Curve at the edge of the peninsula, then turns sharply towards the south along Carteret Street until reaching the Woods Memorial Bridge (drawbridge) over the Beaufort River. The route continues onto Ladys Island before rejoining US 21.

South Carolina 116.svg S.C. Highway 116 (Laurel Bay Road) connects MCAS Beaufort with the military housing community at Laurel Bay and surrounding areas.

South Carolina 170.svg S.C. Highway 170 (Robert T. Smalls Parkway) connects Beaufort with southern Beaufort County, Jasper County, and Savannah.

South Carolina 280.svg S.C. Highway 280 (Parris Island Gateway) connects US 21 with SC 802, creating a western bypass of downtown Beaufort.

South Carolina 802.svg S.C. Highway 802, also known as Lady's Island Drive connects Lady's Island and the eastern Sea Islands with Port Royal, Parris Island, Shell Point, and points west. It provides an alternative reliever route so motorists can avoid downtown Beaufort. The route is co-signed with US Highway 21 over the McTeer Bridge.

Although not located within Beaufort's city limits, these routes provide vital access to the city and are major evacuation routes in the event of a hurricane.

US 17.svg U.S. Highway 17, runs along the northern portion of Beaufort County as Trask Parkway between Interstate 95 exit 33 and U.S. Highway 21. This is also the primary route used between Beaufort and Charleston, as well as Walterboro and Yemassee

I-95.svg Interstate 95 is the closest interstate highway and is located about 25 miles away.

Other transportation

Local public transportation and dial-a-ride service is provided by Palmetto Breeze, a regional transportation authority run by the Lowcountry Council of Governments, which serves as the regional Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). [3]

Beaufort is one of the most popular harbors on the Intracoastal Waterway

Other transportation facilities include the following:

  • The Downtown Marina is Beaufort's nautical gateway to the Intracoastal Waterway and the surrounding Sea Islands. Additional marinas are located on Lady's Island and in Port Royal. Several boat landings exist in the city and in the surrounding areas.
  • Greyhound operates an inter-city bus terminal, connecting Beaufort with the national Greyhound bus network.
  • The Port Royal Railroad served Beaufort and surrounding locales with freight rail service until the closing of the South Carolina Port Authority terminal just south of the City in 2004. The rail at one time also had passenger service and was used by Marine Corps recruits to reach Parris Island. Currently closed between Yemassee and Port Royal, there are continuing discussions about the future of the rail line.


Water and sewer services are provided by the Beaufort-Jasper Water and Sewer Authority (BJWSA), a regional utility agency. City trash and recycling pickup are coordinated by Waste Pro and are billed through BJWSA. South Carolina Electric & Gas Company (SCE&G) provides electricity and power services to the city. Hargray and CenturyLink provide telephone, digital, and cable television services to the city.

Notable residents & natives

Actors, authors, and entertainers


Politicians & leaders


See also


External links


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