Garvin-Garvey House

Cyrus Garvin, a freed slave, built the small cottage named the “Garvin House” on the banks of the May River in approximately 1870. The home is thought to be one of the earliest homes built by a freed slave in Bluffton, SC.  The house was sold by the Garvin family in 1960. Unfortunately, by this time it had been weathered after being used for many years as storage for the Bluffton Oyster Factory. The Town of Bluffton, working with experts, restored the house and was able to reclaim and use much of the original building materials.

Cementing its Place in History

The Garvin-Garvey House, built around 1870, is the only house still standing on the May River which was previously owned by freed slaves. The Town of Bluffton rehabilitated the house and it is considered an asset of the National Register Historic District.


Governor Henry McMaster presented Town of Bluffton and Beaufort County representatives a South Carolina 2018 Historic Preservation Award for their work rehabilitating the Garvin-Garvey House, located in Bluffton’s Oyster Factory Park on August 31, 2018. The South Carolina Historic Preservation Awards are sponsored by the following organizations: Preservation South Carolina, the South Carolina Department of Archives and History, the Office of the Governor and the Historic Preservation Awards. Ten statewide awards were given to municipal representatives and government/public leaders who were recognized for exceptional accomplishments in the preservation, rehabilitation and interpretation of South Carolina’s architectural and cultural heritage.


“We couldn’t be more proud of the Garvin-Garvey House,” Mayor Lisa Sulka said, “Many people, devoted to the Town’s history, saw through the once weed-infested, nearly-collapsing structure and knew it was a historic gem.”

Garvin Garvey House
Bluffton Shrimp Boat

Take a Walk through History

Contact the Heyward House Historic Center for information about their guided tours. Guided tours include a 30-minute tour of the house museum and grounds and a one and a half hour tour of the Historic District. The cost for the Walking Tour is $18 for adults, $12 for students, and the tour is offered by appointment only. Tour times can be arranged by calling (843) 757-6293 or emailing [email protected] .