Atalaya Castle and Arts and Crafts Festival

Enter here, my friends, right through the door of the imaginations of a pair of artists and art historians, Archer and Anna Huntington.  Located inside of Huntington Beach State Park, in South Carolina, it is a great place to spend some time when visiting the Myrtle Beach area.

Many who see this structure mistake it for a fort as it has sturdy masonry walls.  And a large tower that held 3,000 gallons of water is actually where it gets its name.  Atalaya is Spanish for ‘watch tower’.

“Architecture aims at eternity.” – Christopher Wren

I find a lot of inspiration here.  It was built in the thirties at a time when much of the country was suffering from the Great Depression.  Many locals were hired to work at Atalaya and their families were sustained through the building of it.  And they most likely had never seen a structure like this before as it was planned by Archer Huntington in the style of those he had seen in his travels along the Andalusian coast.

“There are three forms of visual art:  Painting is art to look at, sculpture is art you can walk around, and architecture is art you can walk through.” – Dan Rice

In the forties, during World War II, it was occupied by the United States Army Air Corps from the Myrtle Beach Air Field in order to patrol the beaches.  The grounds were covered with artillery and machine guns.  This temporarily ended the Hunington’s annual winter stays – the main reason they wanted to have a home in the south.  The harsh northern winters were too hard on them.  They returned in 1946, and 1947 was their last year at Atalaya as their health and age bore upon them.  Archer Huntington died in 1955 and Anna had all of the furnishings shipped to their home in Connecticut.

There is a gorgeous courtyard inside the inner walls of Atalaya.  It isn’t hard to imagine sitting inside them, safe and protected from the wind off of the dunes.

“The devout have laid out gardens in the desert.” – Robert Duncan

“Architecture in general is frozen music.” – Friedrich Von Schelling

Inside the walls were the pens where the animals were kept that she sculpted – horses, dogs, bears.  Much of the sculpture at Brookgreen Gardens was that of Anna Hyatt Huntington.  And just beyond the house lies the Atlantic Ocean.

In a brief few minutes, you can walk along the trail and end up at a secluded beach.And when you head back up the trail, this is the beautiful view of the house.Well, minus my husband normally.  Isn’t he looking spiffy in his bright shirt though?

And there are lots of nice things about Atalaya, one of which is the annual Arts and Crafts Festival.  This year it will be held September 28 – 30.  Admission is just a few dollars per day and you can see all kinds of artisans and their works from basketry, clay and porcelain, oil and acrylic paintings, metal works, woodworking, jewelry making, glass, and photography.  For more information about that just click on the link below.

Atalaya Arts and Crafts Festival




    1. Oh Bella, it is such an unusual and interesting place. Just the kind of thing you would like. And brides are often photographed here, even if they hold their weddings elsewhere.

  1. What an amazing place with a rich history of the USA through it’s years of hardship and triumph. Your photos are amazing. I’m so glad that you’re sharing your journey with us. I can almost feel the ocean air. Ahhh, it’s lovely. 🙂 Have a great time and keep these photos coming. 🙂

  2. Hi,
    A truly remarkable place, and it does look like a fort. You can tell a lot of work went into building this, and I love that people were able to survive really bad times because of it. What a magnificent place it is in as well, a beautiful beach, looks like a great place to just walk around and enjoy, well worth visiting that is for sure. 🙂

    1. I love old buildings too, and I find that they just transport me to another time period. This one is so intriguing because it is unlike anything else in the area. I’m glad you liked this one.

  3. The View Out Here is quite right. Really I just liked your opinion. I was looking forward to read about it. Thanks for this allocation. 🙂

  4. Just found your blog and I’ve been really enjoying it. Your posts are really…thought provoking. 🙂

  5. Very interesting history. Even in photos you can feel the vibe attached to it. I really like your quotes. I think they are very apt and quite profound. This was such a fantastic post!

  6. I love the water tower and the house has such an interesting architectural look to it. I’m assuming the Huntington’s didn’t have any children to pass it to? Did they give it to the state?

    1. The Huntington’s sadly had no children, but they were philanthropists and donated part of the land to a nature preserve. The rest was leased to SC. They also left a wildlife reserve in New York. I admire them very much for their forward thinking in preserving so much land in such a pristine environment. It would have been easy to sell it for a huge profit to developers.

  7. Renee, It’s a really amazing place with so much of history connected with it. For first I thought it’s a fort. I am sure you are having a great time in this place. Enjoy your stay there. 🙂

  8. We stopped to see Myrtle Beach last fall when we were in SC. We’ve been impressed with what we’ve seen of the entire state, and the friendly folks who live there. 🙂

    1. Yes it is beautiful, although I think Myrtle Beach has become a little commercialized. I suppose that’s why I like this park so much. It is the real thing.

  9. This was interesting. I’d never even heard of Atalaya. It was good to know families were sustained in the Depression of the 30s, through the building of it. It must have been SO valued, to have that job. I loved your quotes in between, that architecture is frozen music & aims at eternity. They were beautiful quotes, soulful.

    Great article 🙂

  10. What a lovely journey. Thanks for inviting us along. When I was a child and my family lived in Alexandria, Virginia, we vacationed a few times at Myrtle Beach, but didn’t venture much beyond the sand and water. Your photos and history make the place look and sound enticing. I love the picture that looks to be an interior wall and fireplace with all the old brick.

  11. Atalaya is full of inspiration. Amazing history, spectacular architectural details, and a beach, so beautiful. Everything about it is just perfect. Thanks for sharing . Have a great weekend.

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