History of Cyrus Garvin
Cyrus Garvin was an African American Freedman born in 1856, who played a significant role in the development of Bluffton, South Carolina. He built the Garvin House in 1874, a historic building that has stood as a testament to the African American experience in Bluffton.
Garvin’s parents were slaves on a plantation in Bluffton, but he was born after the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, which declared all slaves in Confederate territory free. Garvin and his family stayed in Bluffton and he grew up working as a laborer and carpenter.
In 1874, Garvin built the Garvin House on what was then known as Boundary Street, now called May River Road. The building was a two-story, six-room house that Garvin built using his skills as a carpenter. The Garvin House was the first brick building in Bluffton and became a landmark in the town.
Garvin was an entrepreneur and a respected member of the Bluffton community. He owned a general store and a barbershop, which were both located in the Garvin House. Garvin’s general store was the only store in town that sold goods to African Americans, and his barbershop was a popular gathering place for the town’s black residents.
Garvin’s impact on Bluffton extended beyond his businesses. He was involved in local politics and served on the town council for many years. Garvin was also a member of the local chapter of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), a fraternal organization of Union veterans from the Civil War.
The Garvin House continued to serve as a residence and business location for Garvin and his family until the 1930s. In the years that followed, the building changed hands several times and was used for various purposes, including as a school, a church, and a community center.