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ON THE COAST OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 20,000 acres of pristine Lowcountry landscape compose the community of Palmetto Bluff. At the heart of Palmetto Bluff is Wilson Village, anchored by mixed-use, commercial, and civic buildings all facing a village green. The developers, Crescent Resources, enlisted Historical Concepts to create a charming destination that would serve as the hub of the community. Carefully sited along the May River and embracing the ruins of a nineteenth century mansion, the resulting structures were inspired by the architecture in historic waterfront villages along the East Coast. Nestled amongst century old Live Oak trees, the village and its buildings evoke a timeless sense of place.
“The compositional architectural and constructional quality of the village center
is felicitious and entirely free of the misapplied, ill-fitting, poor detail which impoverishes
the quality of so many otherwise well-intentioned new urbanist developments.”
Charter Award juror, noted architect, and urban theoretician
The first structure to greet visitors to Palmetto Bluff’s village center is a mixed-use building currently home to the community’s real estate office. The building’s upper porch provides shelter to the deep sidewalk below, a welcoming transition from the residential village to the village center.
AT THE HEART OF THE VILLAGE sits Palmetto Bluff’s Post Office. The design team took inspiration for this village icon from the historic main street districts of America’s small towns. As often seen on civic buildings of the early twentieth century, the Post Office boasts Italianate detailing, such as a parapet wall and large decorative bracketry.
INSIDE THE POST OFFICE, residents make use of a service counter and retrieve mail from banks of authentic brass boxes. Beyond the lobby is a large, open room that would have been the mail room in a working post office. This multi-purpose space now hosts special events, and can easily be retrofitted for future needs. High windows, a security-staple of old post offices, and a large, metal-framed skylight flood the room with light.
THE GENERAL STORE, tucked under existing Live Oaks, incorporates nearly 7,700 square feet of mixed uses under one roof, while still complementing the scale of the surrounding village and addressing the street and river beyond. A cafe and retail take up the first floor, office space is found on the second level, and a residential flat is tucked under the roofline on the third floor.
Buffalo’s Bakery & Books, located on the first floor of the General Store building, is a popular village destination. Inside, patrons find a sandwich counter, casual dining tables, and a comfortable reading room interspersed with small retail displays. The corner location allowed for a screened porch overlooking the May River and true cafe style dining at the sidewalk, in the shadow of the village’s chapel.
CROWNING THE VILLAGE IS A HUMBLE CHAPEL perched on the shore of the May River. Influenced by historic places of worship along the South Carolina coast, The Chapel is intimate in scale. Simple, but well crafted interiors focus attention on the activities within the building instead of on the building itself. Behind the pulpit, a large nave window frames a view of the May River and its marshes beyond. Restrained detailing reflects authentic craftsmanship, while the use of indigenous materials ensures that The Chapel will age gracefully as an enduring icon of the village.
Floor to ceiling windows fitted with pocket screen doors can be raised a full eight feet, allowing coastal breezes and the scents and sounds of nature to fill the sanctuary.
AS CONSTRUCTION BEGAN ON THE FIRST RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBORHOOD in Palmetto Bluff, the developer recognized the importance of conveying a clear and compelling vision for the community. Historical Concepts provided multiple prototype plans for the homes in Wilson Village that complemented the character of the commercial and civic buildings they had designed. With prototype plans available, the developer was able to quickly transition property sales into built product, build sales momentum, and expedite the emergence of the village.
HISTORICAL CONCEPTS CONTINUES ITS CONTRIBUTION TO THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT at Palmetto Bluff. The firm designs custom homes for clients throughout the community, residences that honor the historical, cultural, and natural heritage of this unique setting.