Bluffton names two buildings “contributing resources”

Bluffton City Council has voted to add a pair of buildings to the list of “contributing resources” in the historic district.

Jennie Kitty’s municipal building and the old post office in Bluffton were added to the list at this month’s council meeting. The city said these were the first new additions to the list since 2008.

“Bluffton’s ‘sense of place’ is what makes our town so unique,” said Mayor Lisa Sulka. “The preservation of these structures (is) essential to honoring our past and the people and places that have helped shape Bluffton’s identity today.”

The city said adding the buildings to the list of contributing structures officially documents their significance, architectural qualities “and the roles they have played in Bluffton’s history.”

Formerly known as the Bluffton Health Clinic, the Jennie Kitty Municipal Building is located at 1261 May River Rd. It now houses the city’s Watershed Management Division.

The building was renamed last year in honor of the city’s first African-American licensed practical nurse. Jennie Kitty worked at the clinic and was midwife to 39 local children whose mothers “could not easily get to the hospital”, the city said.

A press release indicates that the building was constructed in 1957 and an addition was completed in 1967.

“The building is associated with the legacy of community contributions and public service to the town of Bluffton by Jennie Kitty (1930-2021) and the selfless work of Dr. Donald Eugene Gatch (1930-1980), who in the 1960s, was one of the few white physicians treating black patients in South Carolina,” the statement read.

“The red brick building is also notable for being a remarkably intact and rare example of the International (“mid-century modern”) style of architecture in Bluffton.”

The old Bluffton Post Office is at 41 Bridge St.

The old Bluffton Post Office, at 41 Bridge St., was built between 1964 and 1965, the statement said.

“This was the first purpose-built post office in Bluffton and is another fine example of the international style. Before it opened in May 1965, the Bluffton Post Office occupied space in various commercial buildings, including next door to the “rate”, he said.

“Built by then postwoman Lucille Heyward (1910-1992), the red brick post office cost $10,480 to build and Mrs. Heyward leased it from the Post Office Department for an annual rent of $1,248 $. According to former Mayor of Bluffton, Emmett McCracken, the post office was where you would go if you needed to see someone in Bluffton, as everyone came to the post office every day. The post office remained at 41 Bridge Street until 1988.”

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