The U.S. Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island transforms 20,000 recruits a year into Marines. In addition to the MCRD, the Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) and the Naval Hospital play integral roles to the area's overall economy. The MCAS is home to Marine Aircraft Group-31, one of the largest aircraft groups in the world, and the Naval Hospital serves the medical needs of more than 17,000 active duty and retired military personnel and their families.
Residents and visitors interested in learning about the area's history may visit a number of museums. The museum at Parris Island includes exhibits about the history of the military in the Lowcountry. On the grounds of the Naval Hospital are the ruins of Fort Frederick, built in 1732 of tabby, a mixture of seashells and mortar. The Beaufort Arsenal Museum is located in a 1798 arsenal. On display are Revolutionary and Civil War relics and decorative art pieces. The John Mark Verdier House is an excellent example of the Federal style. The home was built in the early 19th century by John Mark Verdier, a leading merchant and planter. In 1825 the Marquis de Lafayette visited the home and during the Civil War, the house served as headquarters for the Union Army. The home has been restored and is furnished as it might have been during Lafayette's visit.
Beaufort is a thriving arts community populated by musicians, actors, authors, storytellers, painters, weavers, sculptors and jewelry artisans. There are galleries and craft shops throughout the city. Entertainment ranges from historical reviews and classic productions to modern compositions performed by the Beaufort Orchestra. Waterfront Park and the University of South Carolina-Beaufort's Performing Arts Center are popular locations for performances of all kinds.
City events and festivals include A Taste of Beaufort, the Water Festival, spring and fall Home Tours, Gallery Walks, A Night on the Town, Light Up the Night, the Shrimp Festival, and the Christmas Parade.
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