Nathaniel Heyward had a town house in Charleston and numerous plantations. He chose the Bluff as his principle residence, and it became his final resting place. He was the fifth generation of Heywards to live in America and the second to plant rice. His ancestor Daniel Heyward, one of the earliest colonists in Carolina, immigrated from County of Derby, England, in 1672. Nathaniel’s father Daniel Heyward (1720-1777), pioneered in an area called “Indian Land” near present Grahamville. By clearing the cypress forests, ditching and leveling the lands, building banks or dikes to control the water, he carved out several substantial rice plantations. At his death in 1777, he left his best properties to Thomas and James, his elder sons. Nathanial got only two small properties, one an inland swamp and the other undeveloped land located on some back fields near Cuckolds Creek and the Combabee River. He managed his brothers’ larger plantations, however because Thomas, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was practicing law in Charleston, and James spent much of the time in England and Philadelphia. Nathaniel Heyward soon proved to be an able planter and begun to buy additional rice lands. He bought several properties from Robert R. Gibbes and John Gibbes and other properties as well. At the time of his death, he owned some 25,000 acres. His home at the Bluff plantation stood at the head of two avenues of live oak on a high bluff-from which it got its name. The house overlooked the Combabee River and the rice fields that flanked both sides.
This narrative from Historical Atlas of the Rice Plantations of the Ace River Basin-1860 by Suzanne Cameron Linder sets the stage for this important project.
No remains of Nathaniel’s house were present at the head of the two, intact, live oak avenues when we were commissioned to design a new house for Bobby and Bernie Hood. Like Nathaniel, Bobby and Bernie own a town House in Charleston, but spend a great deal of time at the Bluff with their children and grandchildren. They have done extensive work restoring rice fields for water fowl habitat, and several old accessory buildings.
Because erosion of the bluff, a 50″ diameter Magnolia, a spectacular western view down the Combahee River, and respect for the history of the property we chose to place the new house to the west of the intersection of the two live oak avenues.
The form of the house is a tradional “T” shape that allows every room three sides of windows. The interiors are cypress milled from wood harvested on the property. Large sliding glass walls open the inside to screened outdoor living dining and kitchen spaces facing the views of the river. An open floor plan with lots of glass enable this big multi generation family to be connected to their land and enjoy themselves in this traditional form house.