Atalaya Castle

Atalaya 2018
In 1930 Archer Huntington purchased Brookgreen (1760) and three adjoining plantations in South Carolina as a site for a winter home for he and his wife, Sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington. She was known for her animal and garden sculptors. Archer was a millionaire philanthropist, son of a railroad tycoon. Anna and Archer met in 1921 and married in 1923. They were both born March 10th, exactly six years apart. They were 53 and 47 when they married, neither had been married before. They first came to Georgetown County in 1929 looking for property to build a winter home as Anna had been diagnosed with Tuberculosis. Her doctor told them New York City winters were bad for her. Tuberculosis is a chronic condition, but Anna’s illness was arrested and she was able to recuperate and enjoy a long life, creating new sculptures into her nineties. In addition to the house they built Brookgreen Botanical & Sculpture Gardens for Anna to exhibit her work. Today these gardens are open to the public and include many of her sculptures. We haven’t been there yet. Next trip down!
Atalaya 2018Atalaya (ah-ta-LIE-yah) a Spanish term for watchtower, was began in 1931, apparently without detailed written plans. Archer Huntington, a noted authority on Spanish culture, designed the house after the Moorish architecture of the Spanish Mediterranean coast. Workers alternated between construction on Atalaya and Brookgreen Gardens over a two to three year period. Mr. Huntington insisted that local labor be utilized in its construction to provide work opportunities for local residents during the Great Depression. Because of this project electricity was run to the town of Georgetown SC much earlier than it would have been and the residents of Georgetown were greatly impacted in many positive ways by the Huntingtons.

IMG_4316The outer walls of the building form a square, with the east side facing the ocean. Within the walled structure, there are two grassy open inner courtyards with a main entry court on the west side. The living quarters consist of 30 rooms around three sides of the perimeter. The one-story brick building is dominated by a square tower (the watchtower) that rises nearly 40 ft. from a covered walkway and bisects the inner court. It is functional in design, having once contained a 3,000-gallon cypress water tank. Water drawn form an artesian well was then pumped into a 10,000-gallon concrete intern where the sand settled. From there, it was pumped into the tower tank. The height of this tank gave the water enough pressure to flow through the house.

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Atalaya 2018The covered walkway of open brickwork is lined with archways and planters on both sides. Living facilities, including the dining room, sunroom, library and bedrooms, occupied the ocean-facing side of the house. The southern wing housed Mr. Huntington’s spacious study, his secretary’s office and Mrs. Huntington’s studio. The studio, with a 25-foot skylight, opened onto a small enclosed courtyard where she worked on her sculptures. Due to her passion for sculpting animals, Mrs. Huntington had facilities such as horse stables, a dog kennel and a bear pen included in the construction. The Huntingtons resided in the house during the colder months of the year, usually form November until March or April.
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two shots of the indoor studio

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Outdoor studio

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Bear pens

UntitledHeating was done entirely by using coal room heaters and wood-burning fireplaces. Ramps led from the courtyards up to each entry door, and wood was hauled in using small carts. Grillwork – designed by Mrs. Huntington – and shutters were installed on each window to protect against hurricane-force winds.

After Mr. Huntington’s death in 1955, most of the furnishing from the house where sent to the Huntington home in New York City. The equipment from Mrs. Huntington’s studio was transferred to the new studio at Brookgreen Gardens. The 2,500 acre tract, including Atalaya, was leased to the state by the Brookgreen Trustees in 1960. Mrs. Huntington died at her Connecticut home in 1973. In tribute to Mrs. Huntington, the annual Atalaya Arts and Crafts Festival is held in the Castle during the fourth weekend of September. ~from brochure at castle

Because no architect was used and only inexperienced local help to build the house the foundation wasn’t laid properly. The bricks were laid right on the sand! There are many cracks in the walls and the building has shifted notably. Not to mention the damage done when Hurricane Hugo hit in 1989 and the storm tides reached and filled the house with ocean! The docent told us the house was always damp and cold and roaring fires had to be going in all the rooms. Such a shame a gorgeous home like this and it was only really lived in for 25 years or so and is not habital now. Had it been built correctly it might still be livable. Another good hurricane and it probably won’t be open to the public any longer. Here are more pictures I took around the house. If you’d like to see an aerial view of it to get an idea of how it was laid out better check it out HERE and HERE.

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Archer’s fancy shower w/ 7 shower heads! 

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Archer’s study

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Kitchen

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a front ocean facing room

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at the bottom right corner if you zoom maybe you can see the floor buckled from the storm.

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courtyard

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inside hallway

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front room view. same room with buckled floor

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Can’t forget the LIBRARY!

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Oyster shucking room

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Path to the ocean

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It was a very HOT day and I hope you wore your sunscreen! Now lets take a quick dip in the ocean. Last one in is a rotten egg!

Georgetown, South Carolina

fullsizeoutput_432Georgetown is the third oldest city in South Carolina, founded in 1729 and becoming an official port of entry in 1732. Indigo was once the money making crop in this town and when the need for it declined they switched to rice. The swampy, low-lying land next to tidal rivers made it the perfect environment to grow rice. By 1840 half the total rice crop from the US came from Georgetown and the port exported more rice than any other port in the world. The local variety, Carolina Gold, was in high demand worldwide. Had it not been for the large African slave population’s knowledge in rice growing this would not have been possible. They have a wonderful Rice Museum there that is well worth the time if you ever get there.

We stopped in the Maritime Museum too. It’s free and full of interesting
things, Like the Planter, a side-wheeled steamer constructed in Charleston in 1860. During the Civil War she was part of both the Confederate and Federal Navy and Army. She became famous as a war prize vessel on May 13, 1862 when she was commandeered in the middle of the night in Charleston harbor by the ship’s pilot, Robert Smalls and her enslaved crew and their families. They turned her over to the Union blockading fleet! She was lost at sea on IMG_20170425_130425_553May 24, 1876, attempting to rescue another vessel.IMG_20170425_130455_125 Robert Smalls, the ship’s pilot, went on to become a member of the Unites States House of Representatives from 1875-1887.

Another great site in Georgetown is the Kaminski House Museum. A fine example of an old antebellum home built around 1750-60. Their not sure of the exact time, but it was given to the owners daughter in 1769. We didn’t go on the tour, just wandered around outside. It sits right on the river. Lovely, peaceful piece of property. Although the paper mill that is right up the river from it now smells something terrible! I found a wonderful virtual tour of the house on their website so you can take a tour right now if you want!
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Another wonderful treat in Georgetown is the Browns Ferry Vessel.  A small colonial merchants vessel estimated, from the age of artifacts found aboard it, to have sank about 1730-40. The vessel is probably older than that judging by some patching done at the seams near the butt. It was discovered by sport divers in 1971 in the Black River near Browns Ferry Landing. The vessel was recovered by the Marine Research Division of the Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of South Carolina (boy that’s a mouth full!) in 1976. It was taken to Columbia, SC and immersed in a tank of polyethylene glycol for conservation and in 1992 it was transported to Georgetown and placed on the third floor of the Prevost Gallery (the old hardware store) for reconstruction and is on display there now. The vessel is made of pine, oak, and cypress and about 50ft. long. It was a flat bottom boat with two masts and could be sailed, rowed or poled. It was carrying a cargo of ten thousand bricks when it sank. A maritime expert at the time considered its value to be the most important single nautical discovery in the United States to date. Its discovery establishes primary evidence for American shipbuilding nearly fifty years earlier than previous discoveries. Here are a few pictures I took of it. They had to completely remove the roof of the old hardware store to get it into the building on the third! Look here for pictures of items found on it.

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It’s a lovely old downtown to roam around with nice shops and restaurants and lovely old buildings. Here are some shots around town. Starting with the old hardware store that houses the Browns Ferry Vessel and shelves of their old record books and the original cash register that had a cash drawer that opened towards the customer!

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If your ever in Myrtle Beach make a day to spend in Georgetown. It’s not far south from Myrtle Beach.

Blue Heron, Egrets and More

We stopped off at Jarvis Park one day while the Bossman was golfing. Hoping to see alligators, but it was a bird type of day. So many of them! I loved it.

These three are an Anhinga. They are common in fresh-water swamps, ponds, and lakes where it spears fish. Often swims with only head and neck exposed. Long straight bill,long tail and white wing and back plumes differentiate it from cormorants. Usually seen singly, but may soar very high in flocks. He sat with his wings out drying like a cormorant.

 

 

These next ones are of a Great Egret.

 

 

 

And the prize of the day, a Great Blue Heron! Notice the turtle sunning to the right of the bird.

 

 

Here’s a video I shot of the Heron preening himself. I kept hoping  he would stretch his wings or walk, but he didn’t.

But this guy was lurking within feet of Mr. Heron!! Must not have been hungry.

Lots of turtles too…

We stopped back by the park another day to see if the gators were out and we hit the jackpot. Saw six of them! Bossman got a little to close for my comfort! I kept yelling at him to stay back, but he’s a man!

 

 

 

 

On the other side of the pond there was a baby laying in the shallow edge of the water and Shelley throw a pine cone near it trying to make it move and it snapped back fast as lightning and grabbed that cone! Didn’t get a pic of it though. There were a few others laying out in the sun besides these 2 guys I posted pics of.  Bossman sees them on the golf course all the time in Hilton Head.