Patty Richards
Palmetto Bluff

Bluffton, South Carolina

R.T. Wilson, Jr. financier and horse racing aficionado, commissioned construction of Palmetto Bluff in 1910 on land his father had purchased as a hunting retreat in the late 1800’s.  The 72-room mansion was the site of numerous grand parties until a fire destroyed most of the site in 1926.  The ghostly remains of the mansion consisted only of some masonry walls and large columns.  The ruins were to be included as a centerpiece for a new community development in Bluffton, South Carolina.

The large existing columns posed as a structural and safety hazard due to their instability.  The charge was to design a method in which the columns could be safely dismantled and the remaining area could be excavated and repaired to create a formal center of the new development.

  • Inspect, assess and document all remaining walls and columns remaining on the site.
  • Prepare construction documents for the proper dismantling of the remaining tall column and the other site features so they could be stored during site preparation.
  • A procedure was developed to pull the tall column down in a controlled fashion, as it would have fallen naturally over time. 
  • With all of the elements stored off site, the landscape was excavated so portions of the foundation walls were exposed at grade level to illustrate the footprint of the original mansion.  The masonry wall repaired and the sections of the columns were laid in place.  The site was then landscaped and lit.