Perusing Calhoun Street. Part One.

Calhoun Street is not just a different place.  It’s a different pace.  To Native Islanders “peruse” didn’t mean browsing through a book or magazine.  Peruse was a way of walking.  Part strolling, part ambling, part inspecting, part musing.

And that’s something you’ll find on Calhoun Street in Old Town Bluffton.  A different way to walk.  And a different way to enjoy.


Bluffton sign pointing in multiple directions.

You can get there from Calhoun Street

Yes, it’s an art colony.  But it’s also about body and soul.  There are places to eat that are as unique and pleasurable as any work of art on the street. And at the foot of Calhoun, right on the May River is The Church of the Cross, a presence so strong it survived a Yankee naval bombardment.  Yet in a way the atmosphere is too relaxed to be historic, even though it really is.

Think Sausalito, about 1973.

A visit to Calhoun Street often starts on Church Street.  Knowledgeable arts visitors chat with Jacob Preston at his studio there, to get the latest on what’s happening from “Bluffton’s tallest potter.”

Man making pottery bowl, and woman showing off another bowl to a man

Bluffton's tallest potter, and guests

Jacob is such a talent and such a pleasure and such a cornerstone of the arts in Old Town Bluffton, that it’s best to save him for a whole chapter. Just to do the unexpected, an important part of the “Bluffton state of mind,” we’ll wrap up with Jacob, rather than start with him.

There are new buildings and businesses on Calhoun Street north of May River Road, and they’ve done a superb job of blending with the architecture and scale of what came before.  In fact, architects are among the folks who’ve hung their shingle there, along with a chiropractor, acupuncturist, and Yoga studio.

Large oak tree

Natures works exhibit here too

But it’s south of May River Road that art lovers find “their” Calhoun Street.  The genuine credentials just keep appearing: galleries, cafes, antiques.  And the unseen presence of writers and poets who live here seems to populate the atmosphere.

House with white picket fence and American flags

You'll find something to remember

Everyone comes away with a memory and almost everyone gets a token of it, because the galleries and shops offer keepsakes from the collectable to the whimsical.  There’s something to take home that will suit your sensibility and charm the friends who didn’t make it this time.

In Art Vibe posts to come, we’ll duck into some of these doors and spend time with the art, the artists, the food, the antiques – and always with the atmosphere.

I imagine you too will find that one visit wasn’t enough.

potter marks clay cup

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