Atalaya Castle – Huntington Beach State Park

by | Sep 7, 2019

While camping at Huntington State Park near Murrells Inlet, SC, we discovered Atalaya Castle located between the campground’s north and south loops. If you are a follower of my past blogs and YouTube videos, you know that I am a huge history fan. I’m equally intrigued in places where unique architecture exists. Atalaya Castle filled both of these interests. Atalaya Castle was built as a summer resident by philanthropist Archer M. Huntington and his wife, the sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington in the mid-1930s.

The Watchtower

Atalaya Castle Huntington Beach State ParkAtalaya means “watchtower” in Spanish. The castle is a Moorish design made of brick and concrete containing 30 rooms in a U shaped structure. As you approach the grounds, you first notice a large tower that rises 40 feet in height in the center of the gardens. A covered walkway stretches from the main entrance of the gardens, under the tower, to the foyer entrance at the center of the home.

The Castle’s Location

I found the castle to be unique for someone of substantial means in the 1930s. Located on 1000’s of acres of pristine coastal forest, steps away from the beach dunes, living in this winter home must have been a welcome retreat from a busy New York life and the business demands of Archer and Anna. Thinking of this area located between today’s Pawleys Island and Murrells Inlet, this must have been a place to escape. In the 1930’s, no bridges existed to the island with the only access provided by boat or ferry.

The Castle and Gardens

Atalaya Castle Huntington Beach State ParkIt is a castle, although small in design, the outer structure surrounds beautiful gardens. Now over eighty years later, these beautiful gardens continue to welcome visitors. One element I found interesting were the beautiful, ornate iron grills placed over the windows in the garden and outer walls. The grills added to the Moorish charm and displayed exception craftsmanship of the time. The rooms inside the castle were surprisingly small when one considers this to be the winter residence of one of the richest people in America. Thick masonry walls and large windows made the building tolerable for the hot temperatures. The castle contained:

  • a single bedroom for Archer and Anna with separate baths,
  • library,
  • office,
  • a very large studio and courtyard for Anna’s sculpting,
  • a secretary’s room,
  • small kitchen and dining, and
  • resident servant’s and housekeeper’s quarters.

There were no guest bedrooms or guest quarters on the property. The castle was meant to be a private place for escape.

All That Remains

Sadly, all that remains of the castle are the bear walls and ceilings. Nothing remains of the furnishings and the interior has weathered over time. Yet, the castle still displays a striking pose as to what it may have offered the Huntington’s for their winter stays in the 1930’s and ‘40s.

There is much more to see and experience of this unique American castle. Enjoy the tour in the video below and I hope you have the opportunity to visit Atalaya Castle in Huntington Beach State Park.

Additional information:

Atalaya Castle History – www.atalayacastle.com
Atalaya Castle Wiki – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atalaya_Castle_(US)
Archer Huntington – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archer_Milton_Huntington
Anna Hyatt Huntington – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anna_Hyatt_Huntington
Huntington Beach State Park Campground – https://southcarolinaparks.com/huntington-beach/camping

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