Atalaya Castle

Huntington Beach State Park near Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, is home to Atalaya Castle, the house of Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington. According to the National Register nomination, the house, a single story of masonry construction was built ca. 1932. It was built in the shape of a square with 200ft long outer walls and can be classified as Moorish style architecture reflecting the Mediterranean Coast.  This house sits about 150 yards from the ocean.  Huntington specialized in sketching, painting, and sculpting animals and her work is internationally known.  Unique features include an interior courtyard, 30 rooms, iron grillwork over the windows, animal pens, latticed brickwork, 25 chimneys, outdoor rooms, and elaborate wood shutters.

The Huntingtons spent winters at Atalaya until 1947. Around 1960, the property was leased for use as a state park. In 1984, Atalaya was nominated to the National Register of Historic Places and as a National Historic Landmark, as part of the Brookgreen Gardens, where much of Anna Hyatt Huntington’s artwork can be seen.

Visitors to Huntington Beach State Park are free to walk through the site, no tour required, and investigate the rooms, take photographs, and sit in the courtyard. While I haven’t been there since summer 2007, I remember being very intrigued that this building was just subjected to the elements, constantly, and it was only serving as outdoor art, if you will. It recalls the discussion about buildings as museums, as livable spaces, or open to the casual observer.  I think this particular “abandoned” building does serve a good purpose of public education and architectural intrigue since it is in a public park and not out in the middle of nowhere. But, how long can something be out in the elements before it needs conservation, without which, it will eventually fade away.

p.s. The state park is a great place to camp, picnic, swim, run, and spend an afternoon or a weekend.

p.p.s. click on each gallery photo for a larger image.