Across from Bluewater Resort is a field with an old tabby building in it. When we first stayed there, I think this is where we saw deer in the field. There used to be goats, sheep and deer. And I think some horses, too.
I tried to look up what the ruins were of, but didn’t find anything at first.
This year I looked it up again and found an article in the Island Packet, the local paper. The land belongs to Thomas Barnwell. In 2017, when the article was written, he had just been approved by the town’s Design Review Board “to build within the walls of the tabby ruins.”
The article in the Island Packet quotes Mr. Barnwell “I want to preserve this structure because as of today, 2017, it is the best preserved tabby on Hilton Head Island. He says, “It was passed to me from my father, and I’d like to pass it on for generations to come.”
The article interviewed Colin Brooker, a preservation consultant hired by Mr. Barnwell who specializes in tabby conservation.
The building was likely constructed in the 1820s or 1830s, and it is believed all records of the structure were burned during the Civil War…
Brooker said the Chicora Foundation, an archaeological consultant group, excavated the property in 1988 searching for clues to the tabby structure’s past.
“The results were somewhat inconclusive … but what we did learn was it was definitely not built as a habitation,” Brooker said. “I now believe it was a cotton house or something associated with cotton production.”
This building has stood on Hilton Head nearly 200 years. Here’s what one man is doing to save it.
By Alex Kincaid
The Island Packet October 10, 2017
The article says that Barnwell intended to build a “wooden structure within the walls of the tabby remains to support a roof that will shield the building from the elements.” So, the roof is like an umbrella to protect the ruins. It’s not actually attached to them, but is supported by a framework inside.
The article also said, “Eight years ago, contractor Richard Wightman started repairing the structure by patching it with a modern mixture of sand, lime and shell to resemble the original tabby material.” I thought it used to look a lot more deteriorated. Unless I am thinking of different ruins.
The building is not insured to be open to the public.
Now I have the answer. The building is the best preserved tabby on Hilton Head Island. It was some kind of plantation outbuilding. It is over 200 years old.
So this building was from the 1800s, before the 1893 Sea Islands Hurricane wiped out every structure on the island with a sixteen foot storm surge.
Somewhere I have photos of what the building used to look like before the repairs. I’ll add them when I find them.
WOW! I looked the location up on Google maps and used the whatever-they-call the time machine slider. It REALLY used to look different!
And look closely under the tree. I think those are the goats, sheep and deer that I think I remember used to be in this field.
I did not imagine the deer. I found a news article about it.
A family of deer lived in the woods across Squire Pope Road. Late one night, they came inside the fence to see what they could find to eat. The baby could not get back over the fence, so she just stayed…
Over time, “the deer thought it was a goat,” Curtis Barnwell said.
Lauderdale: Little doe helps Gullah ways survive on Hilton Head
Island Packet (Hilton Head Island News Paper) May 28, 2015
I also learned in the article that the family owns the land under Bluewater Resort. “That helps the elder Barnwell, a member of the Hilton Head Island Hall of Fame, preach his old message to the Gullah community: Don’t give up your land. Capitalize on it, but keep it in the family.” The family owns the land, but leases it to Spinnaker Resorts.