Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Atalaya Castle at Huntington Beach State Park, SC

The palm-line courtyard inside Atalaya.On Tuesday, June 19, we visited Huntington Beach State Park and walked through Atalaya Castle.

The castle was a winter home for Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington built in the style of Moorish architecture from Spain's Mediterranean coast.

Anna Hyatt Huntington (1876-1973) was a well known American sculptor. Her father was a professor of paleontology and zoology at Harvard and MIT. Archer Huntington was the son of 19th Century railroad tycoon Collis Huntington (for whom Huntington, WV, is named. Archer himself is best known for his scholarly work in Hispanic Studies and for founding The Hispanic Society of America.

We weren't fortunate enough to be at the park when a tour was available. There are, however, narrated tours of Atalaya on a regular basis.

Evidently it was possible to see the ocean from the house when it was built in the early 1930's. Now the house is separated from the sea by a few sand dunes.

The castle is built in a 200-foot square with a large inner courtyard. Living quarters were spread over 30 rooms along three sides of the structure. Of those, 18 rooms were occupied by the Huntingtons and the other 11 were servants' quarters. A large square tower made from cypress wood sat in the courtyard; the tower held 3,000 gallons of water.

The covered walkway...When you come in the front of Atalaya you see a gated doorway into the courtyard. To the left are the stables and kennels. To the right is the oyster shucking room. having shucked our own roasted oysters at a local seafood restaurant, we thought the oyster shucking room was delightful.

When you enter the courtyard you find a covered walkway of open brickwork. Planters still line the sides.

The portion of the house the Huntingtons lived in had a dining room, a separate breakfast room, a bath for him, a bath for her, a sunroom, a library, an indoor studio for Anna, and indoor studio for Archer, and bedrooms.

Fig vines on the courtyard walls.Most of the inner walls were covered with creeping fig vines.

Most of the rooms had a fire place that I'm sure heated the rooms during the winter. But during the summer I suspect the house was insufferable. There was a freezer room in the kitchen and note that said that 300 pounds of ice were trucked in each day. I suspect it was a pleasant room to stand in during the month of July...

The Huntingtons returned to Atalaya after the war for their usual stay in 1946 and 1947. These were the last years they used their home.

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