Atalaya (AH-tuh-lie-uh) the “watch tower” of the seas emanates LOVE: the romantic love between two remarkable people Anna Hyatt and Archer Huntington, their love of nature, wildlife, art and the Mediterranean culture. Take your loved ones to Atalaya for an inspirational, uplifting and memorable experience.
The masonry structure, “a hair-raiser to an architect” by Anna’s confession, is not much to look at. Empty walls decorated only by the museum inscriptions, narrow and mysterious passages winding to and from the 30 or so rooms, and dozens of iron guard rails over the open windows.
Yet you can’t help but feeling good, inspired and even day dreaming. Maybe is Anna’s witty quotes from her diary or the exotic pets stories. Maybe is the simple fact these extremely wealthy people decided to spent their time and fortune on a God forsaken island fighting to preserve the environment and bring progress to a hard-hit community during Depression. Either way hats off to the visionaries!
“Now I have five monkeys chattering in the studio, the peafowl screaming in the yard and the bears crawling on the other side. As a sculptor I call it an embarrassment of riches but others my not think so…”
Funny facts and interesting trivia:
• The Huntingtons owned much of the Central Park NY when Atalaya was built in mid 1930s. They paid $225,000 for 6,600 acres that will be home the present day Huntington Beach State Park and Atalaya Castle.
• The watch tower was meant as a roost and breeding spot for bats. “We must build a tower here. I want to make a place for bats to roost and breed. In San Marcos, Texas…they built towers to attract bats and exterminate the malarial mosquitoes”. When building the Atalaya tower Archer was inspired by a tower in Morocco used to spot pirates in the 19th century…Turns out the tower will be mainly used as a water tank. To this day however the holes provide a safe passage for bats.
• Everything inside the “castle” was fire proof. This made sense considering all windows were trapped behind iron guards. Nobody really knows how the house was decorated or furnished. Except for the living room there is not one single photo or painting with Atalaya’s interior design. By the way, in the middle of the living room ceiling hanged a Swiss cowbell, a tribute to Anna’s love for the Swiss Alps.
• What a coincidence! Both Anna and Archer were born on March 10. Go figure, their wedding anniversary was also on March 10. No excuse to forget each other birthday!
• The Huntingtons were RV pioneers! They used recreational vehicles each winter coming down from Connecticut to Atalaya. How many of you “captains of the highways” have carried along an entire menagerie of monkeys, dogs and macaws?
• Anna loved working with animals as models for her sculptures (some still on display today at Brookgreen Gardens across the street from Huntington park entrance). “Find figure work very dull. All figures are so alike and only the pose varies them…with animals is different. You have tremendous variety and never the same in any way. Give me the animal to do!”
My favorite story was about Old Stevie, “an old hopeless stallion, starved and wretched” Anna bought from a farmer for $25 to be used as a model for Don Quixote’s Rocinante. She nursed him back to good health and once her sculpture was done Anna put him out to pasture for the rest of his life.
Atalaya is located inside Huntington Beach State park off of Hwy 17 in Murrels Inlet just half an hour drive from Myrtle Beach and Georgetown. Admission to the park (includes Atalaya visits) is $5 adults, $3.25 SC seniors, $3 children 6-15, and free for children 5 and younger (prices subject to change).
The park provide free guided Atalaya tours from March through October, Tuesday – Friday at 2 PM and Saturday and noon. You can also tour Atalaya at your own pace year around from 9 AM to 5 PM.
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Filed Under: Brookgreen Gardens, Camden Florence Cheraw Pee Dee, Carolina Beaches, Fun Carolina Outdoor Recreation, Historic Carolina Sites, Huntington State Park, Inspirational, Myrtle Beach, Parks and Gardens
Tags: Anna Huntington quotes inspiration, Anna Huntington Sculpture Studio, Atalaya Castle photos, Atalaya facts and history, Huntington State Park attractions, inside Atalaya, Myrtle beach free family attractions, Myrtle Beach fun kids things to do, romantic mysterious places on South Carolina coast, what to do with kids near Myrtle Beach