Castles! The word brings images of knights fighting to save princesses, jousting matches and archery contests. Most people probably report being taken over by a feeling when thinking about them. Yet if you’re anything like me, you most likely would be quite surprised upon finding out that there are castle ruins hidden in South Carolina on the Atlantic Coast. I couldn’t believe my ears when I first learned this, so the next time I was in the area, I made sure that I stopped by to check them out after stopping at the Myrtle Beach Supercharger.
As I pulled into Huntington State Beach park, where the castle is located, I was happy to see the state had preserved this beautiful area. Myrtle Beach was just down the road with hotels and tourist traps lining the beaches. Now, I had been transported back in time to sand sandwiched between crashing waves and towering forests. I surly enjoyed this atmosphere much better. I parked my car and saw the “castle” across the field. Not quite a castle and more of a large stone house, but whatever. I’ll take what I can get. Walking through the gate, I was greeted by an enthusiastic woman who was eager to tell me stories of the old owner and how his philanthropic efforts helped build the communities in the area and educate the locals after the end of the civil war. After she convinced me to purchase the additional audio tour, I set off to learn about how this building came to be.
Atalaya was the home of Anna and Archer Huntington, who had purchased the property, and built the home, while seeking to escape the cold of New England, as Anna had tuberculosis and the doctors had advised that a warmer climate be built. They promptly purchased 9000 acres along the coast, and built the house in the old Moorish style that they both admired. Anna was a famous sculptor, which led them to building the house with multiple open rooms and studios that she could work in. She always worked while watching live subjects, so cages for animals (including bears!) lie throughout the property. Consisting of 30 rooms, the house was separated down the middle with one half being for servants, and the others for the Huntington’s.
Most notably, Archer made sure to hire all of his workers from the local population, providing both education and proper wages to a community that most at the time looked down on. In his will, Archer donated all the land back to that community, with the only provisions being that they protect it and continue to keep sustaining the locals.
Spending a couple of hours walking throughout the property was a joy. Listening to the stories over the audio tour transported me back to the first half of our century and for a few hours, I disappeared in my mind. No modern conveniences. Primitive appliances. Harsh Weather. It was a different world, one that I have a hard time comprehending today. But the chance to rediscover it while here, was priceless.
Closest Supercharger Myrtle Beach SC 18 mi
2000 Coastal Grand Cir, Myrtle Beach, SC 29577
Atalaya Rd, Murrells Inlet, SC 29576