Cuthbert House Inn History
The Cuthbert House was originally built for the Cuthbert family, wealthy plantation owners. It was a cool retreat along the water situated to take advantage of the fresh breezes of the coast. The now historic bed and breakfast also provided an escape from the swarm of insects which invaded the plantation with every warm season. The Cuthbert family spent the summer in this home receiving visits from other prominent families of the area.
It is believed that this antebellum mansion was built around 1805, but estimates run from 1790 to 1810. It sheltered the Cuthbert family until 1861, when following the loss of the Port Royal Sound battle, Mary Cuthbert abandoned the house to the Union troops as she fled Beaufort and the now historic bed and breakfast with her children. During the civil war, the home became headquarters for General Rufus Saxton. His duties included the continual and successful operation of all cotton plantations confiscated on the Sea Islands. General Saxton was responsible for managing, housing, paying and recruiting the newly freed slave population for the remainder of the war. Several young soldiers who came into the house left some of Beaufort’s earliest graffiti behind when they carved their names in the marble mantel of one of the fireplaces. Their signatures can still be seen today in the Eastlake Suite parlor.
It was in this house that General Saxton entertained his old boss from the western Indian wars, General W.T. Sherman, in late January 1865, after his drive to the sea and the night before his march through the Carolinas. After the war, General Saxton purchased the Cuthbert House at a tax auction for one thousand dollars. He made it his home for the next 10 years and then sold it to a prominent hardware and lumber yard owner, Mr. Duncan Wilson, who expanded it to its present day 9,300 plus square feet with a unique adaptation of a masculine Victorian style from its Federal roots in the Adams style.
When the National Historic Landmark Program began in 1960, the Cuthbert House was one of the first homes in Beaufort to be listed on the National Register of Historic places. After a close call with destruction in the late 1960’s, the Cuthbert House has been lovingly restored by four families to the grand manor you can enjoy today.