On March 30, 1891 the William Elliott House was purchased by a Naval officer, Rear Admiral Lester Beardslee for $4,000. From 1891 to 1894 the Admiral was in command of the Port Royal Naval Station. The Admiral’s stated intention for the house was a residence upon his retirement from the Navy.
Born at Little Falls, New York, Beardslee had a very distinguished Naval career. While on USS Plymouth, he was a member of Commodore Perry's party at the memorable landing at Kurihama, Japan in July of 1853.
In January of 1863 he married Evelyn Small and during the Civil War, was on the monitor Nantucket during the ironclad attack on Charleston Harbor in April 1863. He served on board the Wachusett off Bahia Brazil, participating in the capture of the Confederate cruiser Florida in October of 1864, commanding the latter as prize to Hampton Roads, Virginia. While commanding the tug Palos to meet the Pacific Squadron in 1870, he took the first US flag through recently completed Suez Canal ending the voyage in China.
On the USS Jamestown, he served as the Commander of the Department of Alaska from 1879-80, in these waters he, covered, surveyed and named Glacier Bay. The popular Beardslee Islands in Glacier Bay are named for the esteemed Admiral. On July 14, 1901, returning to Japan, he participated on the unveiling of a monument commemorating the 40th anniversary of Admiral Perry’s historic voyage. On May 21, 1895 he was promoted to Rear Admiral and on February 1, 1898 he retired from the Navy at 62 years of age.
The April 3, 1902 issue of the Beaufort Gazette reported, “The renovation of the old tabby Clubhouse on the opposite corner from the Sea Island Hotel by Admiral Beardslee for a handsome mansion is progressing, and soon it will be made an imposing residence. Only a shell of the old building is being preserved, and entire new house walls are being built inside. The mansion will be the finest and most elegant in town."