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Given its historic legacy as the second oldest town in South Carolina (just 20 years older than Charleston ), it should come as no surprise that history plays a part in all of Beaufort’s major attractions. A few places to check out include:
The John Mark Verdier House Museum, located at 801 Bay Street , is currently the only historic home that is open to the public year round. The Verdier House (also known as the Lafayette House) was built by John Mark Verdier in the 1790s. When the Marquis de Lafayette visited Beaufort during his tour of the United States in the 1820s, he stayed at the home and addressed the public from the steps, thus earning the house the "Lafayette House" moniker. During the Civil War, Union forces occupied the house and made it their headquarters.
By the 1940s, the structure had fallen into a state of disrepair, but thanks to dedicated efforts by citizens, the house was purchased and preserved by the predecessor group to the Historic Beaufort Foundation. This preservation movement (one of the earliest in the United States) would be the start of larger, community-wide efforts towards historic preservation in Beaufort over the next 70 years.
The museum is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Admission costs $5. Visitors can also obtain self-guided tour information from the Verdier House and HBF staff.
The Arsenal, located at 713 Craven Street is a National Historic Landmark and currently the home of the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce Convention and Visitors Bureau. The building, which was recently refurbished, offers visitors a unique glimpse of a 19th century arsenal, complete with thick walls and some exhibits that showcase its previous capacity as a militia outpost.