If you want to fit in with the Beaufort locals, be sure to pronounce the name of this picturesque and historic town ”Bo-furt” so as not to stick out like a sore thumb. You’ll also pass the local trivia test if you know that Beaufort was established in 1722 as a seaport with the right to collect customs and that during the American Revolution it was the third-largest port in the state.
It was during the early 1700s—when Blackbeard was pirating the coast—that Beaufort was dubbed “Fish Town.” (In 1997, the wreckage of what is presumed to be Blackbeard’s flagship, Queen Anne’s Revenge, was discovered in 20 feet of water less than two miles from Beaufort Inlet.)
In 1731, the “Old Burying Ground” was deeded to the town; it contains the graves of soldiers from the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War. Historians will relish finding Captain Otway Burns’ grave, complete with the cannon from his privateer, in the Old Burying Ground. Nearby rests a salt works, which was established by order of the Provincial Congress in 1776 for Revolutionary War use.
By the nineteenth century, Beaufort’s port was a mecca for agriculture, commercial and governmental works, and soon became a summer retreat for the who’s who of money. It wasn’t until the 1970s waterfront restoration that Beaufort once again became a summer playground for the rich and famous.
Because Beaufort was occupied by Union forces, it withstood the Civil War well. Soon after the war, lumber, barrel staves, rum, and molasses were again traded. When the trade of goods began to decline, commercial fishing took its place as the primary business in the area. Beaufort was also a homeport for a large fishing fleet and the site of the processing plants for the Menhaden trade.
The Historic District of Beaufort, on the National Register of Historic Places, features more than 100 historic homes. The district is also the location of the Beaufort Historic Site, a two-acre complex that interprets the town’s colonial maritime heritage in nine houses and buildings dating from 1732 to 1859. The site offers classes, workshops, and events throughout the year, as well as guided tours of the Historic Site that depart the Safrit Historical Center (at the south end of the historic site).
Other district tours include rides on Old English double-decker buses complete with stories of town residents; architectural walking tours of Beaufort’s historic district; and guided tours of the Old Burying Ground.
One of the most popular annual tours, which began in 1960 as a fundraising event by the Beaufort Woman’s Club for the newly established Beaufort Historical Association, is the Beaufort Old Homes Tour held during the last weekend in June. Annual activities include tours of private and association-owned homes, musical performances, an antique show and sale, and military re-enactments.
The Beaufort Old Homes Tour is a two-day event, in which more than 2,000 visitors are greeted by volunteers in period dress and welcomed into private homes, churches, and meeting halls. The event also features a tour of the only Menhaden fish factory still in operation in North Carolina.
Another popular event is the Beaufort Ghost Walk, which won the Crystal Coast’s “Number One Attraction” and “Best Tour Guide”. The tour is an after-dark walk through town, accompanied by chilling stories of murderous pirates, unexplained happenings, ghost ships, and haunted houses. The Ghost Walk covers less than 10 blocks and takes about 45 minutes, and one of the stops includes The Hammock House, one of Beaufort’s many haunted houses, and once the home of Blackbeard the Pirate.
Whether you’re visiting Beaufort or relocating to the area, be sure to visit Bluewater Bluewater Real Estate and Vacation Rentals. We can help you find a place to stay and play.