Explore Atalaya Castle in Huntington Beach State Park. Learn what is used to be like for Anna and Archer Huntington and why they loved South Carolina so much.
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Hello, my name is Josslyn Stiner, Interpretive Park Ranger here at Huntington Beach State Park and I am welcoming you to Atalaya.
Atalaya is the winter home of Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington. They built this house from 1931 -1933 actually using all local labor. One of the reasons that they settled here in South Carolina was because Anna was suffering from Tuburculosos in early 1920's. They needed a warmer climate for her to spend her winters and they were living in New York at the time. So, they came down here and fell in love with South Carolina and decided to build.
At the time they were building Atalaya they were building Brookgreen Gardens right across the street.
They utilized all of the local labor and taught the local residents how to construct a building in this way, the moorish style and they gave them valuable lifeskills they can use the rest of their lives.
One of the interesting things about Atalaya is the brickwork, you can tell when you are standing in a room that the Huntington's considered public domain by the brick pattern that is haring bone pattern. All of the other spaces have a straight brick pattern. But when you are in the library, breakfast room, the sunroom and the foyer these all have the more decorative pattern. So this is where the Huntington's would have invited their guests to join them.
In fact, we actually have oral histories from some of the employees of the Huntington's would invite them to the foyer to have tea. this is something that the Huntington's did on occasion. They really didn't have any overnight guests, so that is why you won't see any ballrooms, guestrooms in Atalaya. The only person they know for sure that visited them here was Anna's sister and she actually stayed in one of the out buildings but is no longer on the premise.
Archer first came down here in 1929 and found this area and realized that this stretch of beach reminded him of his time in Spain. He traveled through Spain as a young man and decided that this would be a perfect place to build a replica of a Spanish or Morish fort and that is why Atalaya has the architecture that it has today because Archer was recreating what he remembered about his travels.
Atalaya has a lot of whimsical details so it is not an exact replica of the forts you see along the Spanish Mediterranean Ooast but it is very close. It has a two part plan with two courtyards and has a central walkway, which we call the covered walkway. It has small rooms kind of in a horseshoe shape around the perimeter of the house and it has these really beautiful iron grill works over the windows.
Atalaya is actually named for the large watch tower that is in the center of the courtyard right behind me here. Atalaya means watch tower in old Spanish and luckily for the Huntington's they didn't have to use it as a lookout for pirates so they used it as a water tower. It used to hold a 3,000 gallon Cypress Water tank at the very top of that tower, pump water from the cistern from the northern end of the property up to that tower and then gravity would push the water through all of the pipes throughout the house.
Well, thank you guys for joining me on this short tour of Atalaya Castle here in Huntington State park where you learned a little bit about it and please feel free to visit us here at Huntington Beach State Park.