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Atalaya Castle, a timeless love story at Huntington Beach State Park

Posted By ShoutCarolina,Date: 10.15.2008

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.

Top of Atalaya Castle Huntington Beach

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.

Atalaya Tower

• 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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    8 Responses to “Atalaya Castle, a timeless love story at Huntington Beach State Park”

    1. Dawn Says:

      Such a romantic place. We come to Huntington Beach every other year. Atalaya it’s amazing in its simplicity.

      Nice photos!

    2. Brookgreen Gardens’ Bloodstain Barn and Atalaya Castle’s Gold-Watcher - mystery tales at Huntington Beach Park « Shout About South Carolina Travel, Family Attractions and Free Things to Do Says:

      [...] another story that sheds light into Mr. and Mrs. Huntington character and the incredible Atalaya Castle. As a young boy “Archer’s energy seemed unlimited, and his quick mind grasped everything he [...]

    3. Wild and wonderful Waccatee Zoo, Myrtle Beach kids fun and cheap thing to do! « Shout About South Carolina Travel, Family Attractions and Free Things to Do Says:

      [...] Beach attractions worth shouting about. At minimum go to Huntington Beach State Park to visit the ever mysterious Atalaya Castle and rub elbows with free roaming [...]

    4. » Huntington Beach Park fun things to do, photos, camping, hiking and biking trail map, coastal birding and attractions details. »South Carolina Family Attractions, Free, Affordable and Fun Things To Do Says:

      [...] bird-watching on the East Coast. Sounds enticing? That’s Huntington Beach State Park. Add the picturesque Atalaya Castle and the internationally acclaimed outdoor sculptures collection at Brookgreen Gardens (across the [...]

    5. Myrtle Beach “I like to move it!” crazy play with zebras, giraffe and baby elephant at Jungle Safari mini-golf « Shout About South Carolina Travel, Family Attractions and Free Things to Do Says:

      [...] “Pet” alligators and roam the mysterious Atalaya Castle at Huntington Beach State Park ($5 park [...]

    6. Fun things to do with kids around Myrtle Beach for under $10 « Shout About South Carolina Travel, Family Attractions and Free Things to Do Says:

      [...] Visit the romantic Atalaya Castle inside the Huntington Beach State Park where the Wild Things Are! Beware of free roaming jaws [...]

    7. Barbara Willis Says:

      This is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. My son and future daughter-in-law would like to have some information on getting married at this beautiful place. If you could email me some information or tell me where I can get it, I wold be so appreciative.
      Thank you very much.

      Barbara Willis

    8. ShoutCarolina Says:

      Hi Barbara

      I couldn’t agree more, this place is out of this world…so romantic.

      Call the park office at (843) 237 - 4440 to inquire about wedding ceremonies and to make reservations.

      Good luck and congratulations!


      P.S. Please send me a wedding photo if they do get married at Atalya…I’d like to post it on the blog.

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