The Atalaya Castle, more-so known simply as Atalaya, is located in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina. This national landmark has quite the history, rooted in art and philanthropy, and spanning across the 1900s.
Atalaya Castle was built as a winter home by the Huntington’s, Archer and Anna, between 1931 and 1933. The couple was from New York but relocated due to Anna’s progressing tuberculosis. The architecture was inspired by Spanish designs, which is also a reference to the name ‘Atalaya’ meaning ‘watchtower’ in Spanish! Anna, as an artist herself, took a lot of liberties in the design of the home and even custom made the wrought iron grills that protect the exterior from hurricanes.
This thirty-room castle is built around a central courtyard that boasts native plants, including Sabal Palmettos—South Carolina’s state tree! When the house was built, Archer made sure to invest in the local community at the time in order to boost the economy during the Great Depression. He also used the 9,000 acres that the property sat on to create the first public sculpture garden to showcase Anna’s work— known today as Brookgreen Gardens!
During the Second World War, the house was left for the soldiers to use as a base. Its proximity to the beach and its watchtower made it the perfect location for patrolling. After the war, the Huntington’s only returned to the house once more as a couple in 1947 before Archer passed in 1955.
In 1960, the home, along with 2,500 acres of the estate, was left to the state of South Carolina. Huntington Beach State Park was formed shortly after and keeps the home and its history maintained as a part of the National Register of Historic Places.
In its modern state, Brookgreen Gardens houses the largest collection of American sculptures in the county. It is also the site of acres of botanical gardens and natural wooded areas that are rich in the native plants of the South Carolina Lowcountry. These areas attract hundreds of butterflies that love to land on their human visitors! And if you like animals, the on-site zoo is another special place to view alligators, eagles, foxes, otters, deer, and more species that are indigenous to the Grand Strand.
With a multitude of scenic tours throughout this little slice of South Carolina history, or with just a day pass, you can enjoy all there is to offer. Check out their website to purchase a ticket today!
– By Olivia Dimatteo, blog contributor for Garden City Realty
Photo Credit: davidh4976 via Flickr
Link to Huntington State Park
Link to Brookgreen Gardens