Towards the end of Beach City Road is the 5 acre site containing Fort Howell, a Civil War era earthworks fort. Built in 1864 , it was to protect the freedmen’s village of Mitchelville and to improve the defenses of Hilton Head. In 1862, Mitchelville was established near current Beach City Road and was the nation’s first Freedmen’s village with mandatory education requirements for the children.
The Fort is pentagonal in shape, surrounded by a dry moat, earthen walls 23 feet in height, and placement for 27 guns. Partially eroded and forgotten, it was rediscovered when neighboring Palmetto Hall was being developed and was donated to the Hilton Head Land Trust for preservation. In 2011 it was listed as a National Historic site, the upkeep and improvement of the site is an ongoing project of the Land Trust. It is open to visitors during daylight hours, offering literature for a self-guided walking tour.