Historic Sites

Hilton Head Island, SC

The rich historical significance of Hilton Head Island is evident in many local landmarks. The island boasts a history of all sorts of battles and has withstood the American Revolution, slavery, the Civil War and the Great Depression.

Hilton Head Island's ancient Shell Ring is located near the east entrance to the Sea Pines Forest Preserve in Sea Pines Resort, the island's first developed community. The Shell Ring is believed to be over 10,000 years old and measures 150 feet in diameter. Archeologists believe it was a refuse heap that was created by Native Americans living in the cleared interior of the ring. Today, the Shell Ring is protected by law and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

The Stoney-Baynard Ruins date from the mid-18th century and are located near the southern tip of the island in Sea Pines Resort. The ruins are the remnants of Braddock's Point plantation house, constructed during the prosperous years of the antebellum cotton industry. The house was damaged and abandoned during the Civil War and its remains were left to the elements.

What is left of the tabby structure is comprised of a foundation and the remaining shell of the home. When viewed up close, thousands of oyster shells resemble a honeycomb pattern created from a complex shell texture. These ruins, the last remaining remnants of Hilton Head's plantation culture, remain today as a monument to the impressive design, ingenuity, and materials used in these grand residences.

Its churchyard cemetery and the Baynard mausoleum are all that remains on what was once the site of the Mt. Zion Chapel of Ease, which was constructed in 1788. The small cemetery is the final resting place for several island residents who fought in the Revolutionary War. It is said that the ghost of William Baynard haunts the cemetery during storms, distraught over the death of his wife on their wedding night in 1830. Union soldiers raiding the property for wood to build their own lodgings destroyed the chapel and its outbuildings in 1868, leaving the mausoleum as the largest antebellum structure still standing on Hilton Head Island.

The steam cannon at Port Royal is located in Port Royal Plantation and was built around 1900 to guard Port Royal Sound. Although the cannon was fixed, the design of its propulsion system allowed for long-range shots that were impressive at the time.

Honey Horn Plantation is the only plantation on Hilton Head Island that still features an original plantation house, which has been recently restored. The earliest documented use of the property was as a working farm in 1805. Most of the existing structures date from 1920 to 1930 when the property was used as a hunting club.

The Coastal History Museum was established in 1985 with the mission of teaching the public about the natural history and culture of the Lowcountry. The museum is a primary resource for learning about the history and heritage of Hilton Head Island. It offers programs and activities including 11 different tours and cruises all around the island.

Home Hilton Head Island Bluffton Beaufort Charleston