Bluffton Today is runing a spread in today’s paper about an historic building in Beaufort that faces demolition, in order to make way for an expanding Inn. The Tom’s Shoe Repair building on the corners of Port Republic and West streets once housed the offices of Edmund Rhett, a lawyer and three-time Beaufort mayor, who along his brother Robert, was a leader of the “fire-eating” secessionists. The Articles of Sesession were drafted in this office, and later signed at Edmund Rhett’s house at 1113 Craven Street, a home which enjoys some preservationist protections.
According to the article, the structure could move to another location in downtown Beaufort or to a city-owned lot in historic Bluffton, provided a generous donor arranges for the transfer.
Bluffton’s ties to the building date back to July 31, 1844, the day the “Bluffton Movement” was born under the Secession Oak. On that day, as many as 500 people gathered to hear Congressman Robert Barnwell Rhett espouse his belief that the South could gain economic freedom only by breaking away from the union.