Friends of state park celebrate three anniversaries on one day with tea party

spalisin@thesunnews.comMarch 9, 2014 

Join “A Grand Tea Party,” celebrating the mutual birthdays and wedding anniversary -- all on March 10 -- of the late Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington, inside Atalaya, their winter home at Huntington Beach State Park.


  • If you go

    What | “A Grand Tea Party,” celebrating the mutual birthdays and wedding anniversary – all on March 10 – of Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington, founders of Brookgreen Gardens

    By and benefiting | Friends of Huntington Beach State Park, for park volunteer projects

    When | 1-4 p.m. Monday

    Where | The Huntingtons’ Atalaya winter home, in Huntington Beach State Park, on U.S. 17, between Murrells Inlet and Litchfield Beach.

    How much | $5 plus park admission: $5 ages 16 and older, $3.25 S.C. seniors, $3 ages 6-15

    Includes | Guided tours; Peter F. Warren of Murrells Inlet, author of “Confederate Gold and Silver”; Danny McLaughlin, artist; Robin Salmon, vice president for collections at Brookgreen Gardens; Sandra Barnes, local nature photographer; and at 3 p.m., presentation by Lee Brockington, local historian, author, and senior interpreter at Hobcaw Barony, on U.S. 17, just north of Georgetown

    Information | 650-6666 or

    Park details | Details at 238-5325, 247-4440 or

    Park programs | Many free with park admission, unless noted otherwise:

    • Atalaya open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily for self-guided tours, for $2 extra fee for ages 6 and older, otherwise free (also, docent tours at 2 p.m. Sundays-Fridays and noon Saturdays through October, free with admission to home), and optional 45-minute audio tour $4.

    • “Coastal Kayaking,” 10 a.m.-noon Mondays through October, in guided salt-marsh tour from Oyster Landing in Murrells Inlet. $35 extra. Register at 235-8755 by 4 p.m. the previous Sunday.

    • “Feeding Frenzy,” 11-11:30 a.m. Tuesdays-Sundays in nature center.

    • “Alligators,” 10-11 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays through October, from Atalaya entrance.

    • “Living Off the Land” guided walk,” 4-5 p.m. Tuesdays through May.

    • “Secrets of the Salt Marsh,” 4-5 p.m. Wednesdays through May, from marsh boardwalk.

    • “Coastal Birding,” 10-11 a.m. Wednesdays through October, from causeway parking lot.

    • “Hike with a Ranger,” 2.5 miles, 2-4 p.m. Fridays through May, from North Beach parking lot.

    • “Jetty Adventure,” 2.5-mile guided walk, 10 a.m.-noon Saturdays through May.

    • “Snakes and Reptiles,” 4-5 p.m. Saturdays through October in nature center, for $3 extra, in advance from park store.

    • Annual “South Strand Wildlife and History Day,” noon-5 p.m. March 15 – activities include Camp Flintlock, a group of colonial re-enactors; Atalaya tours ($2 fee ages 6 and older); a free-flight raptor demonstration at 1 p.m.; and programs on alligators, beachcombing, sea creatures, snakes, and folklore and ghost stories told in Atalaya basement.

    • “Atalaya Sleepover,” 5 p.m. March 29-10:30 a.m. March 30 – reserve by 5 p.m. March 21: $50 ages 16 and older, $30 ages 7-15, and free ages 6 and younger.

    Also | Visit Brookgreen Gardens, across from the park. It’s open 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, with admission lasting seven days: $14 ages 13-64, $12 ages 65 and older, and $7 ages 4-12. Details at 235-6000, 800-849-1931 or

    By the numbers – all on March 10

    1870 – Archer Huntington born in New York, living to age 85

    1876 – Anne Hyatt born in Cambridge, Mass., living to age 97

    1923 – Huntington and Hyatt married, a partnership lasting 32 years

March 10 remains a triple-decker day every year for Huntington Beach State Park and Brookgreen Gardens. The cross-street neighbors on U.S. 17 between Murrells Inlet and Litchfield Beach mark the mutual birthdays and wedding anniversary of the couple who in 1931-33 built their winter home at the park and established the gardens.

The lives of Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington are always celebrated with a 3-in-1 day in the home, Atalaya, which like Brookgreen, carries a National Historic Landmark designation.

The Friends of Huntington Beach State Park group will remember the artists and philanthropists with “A Grand Tea Party,” 1-4 p.m. Monday at Atalaya, close to the beach, with an afternoon of history and nature art-themed activities across the home.

Joan Crow of Murrells Inlet, an Atalaya tour docent and one of about 150 members in the Friends group, shared some details about helping coordinate this day. Funds raised go toward projects to improve park amenities.

Question | How long has this been an annual tradition by the Friends of Huntington Beach State Park?

Answer | Since 2003, when we started our organization. But actually, the former park superintendent and his wife used to have a small ceremony on ... March 10, so it’s been going on a long time.

Q. | Going from the annual “3-in-1 Day” to “A Grand Tea Party,” what prompted a change in the program for March 10, 2014?

A. | Just that we have been doing the same thing year after year, and someone came up with the idea to have a tea party. ... It has been getting bigger and bigger every year, so we said, let’s change the format, and it’s probably more in keeping with what the Huntingtons had done. Because they were pretty private people, there’s a good possibility they would have had more intimate celebrations.

Q. | What new things are being learned about the Huntingtons, or what special trait about them has intrigued you?

A. | In most of the photographs that we have of Archer, he looks to be a very stern person, and we found out something from his great nephew, when he was here, Archer Huntington Mayor. ... He said that with his “Uncle Archer,” ... they surprised him on occasion and that he did have a wit and he could be quite humorous.

And he said that one point of time, family members had asked Archer Huntington why all of the homes they lived in looked very similar. They were all built of brick and they were not furnished lavishly, but were utilitarian. Archer Huntington’s comment was that he likes houses that could be cleaned with a hose. If I’m doing a tour, I get that in somewhere, and people laugh, saying, “I never would have thought that of him.”

Q. | What partners will add their own touch to the tea party?

A. | We have a variety of special guests. They include Danny McLaughlin, a well-known artist from here to Charleston; he will be painting during the event, and this is what he does every year: He donates the painting for a drawing. Robin Salmon is vice president for collections at Brookgreen Gardens. ... In the past two years, she had brought some of Mrs. Huntington’s act sculptural tools and a couple of her sculptures.

Sandra Barnes is a member of our group; she will ... have some of her photographs, and she is donating of one of them, which she will frame for a drawing. She just did a slideshow for our group at the park nature center – just awesome, with pictures from around the park, all the animals, and different scenes of Atalaya. Our big highlight will be at 3 p.m., with Lee Brockington from Hobcaw Barony; she will be our featured speaker.

Q. | What Friends projects made 2013 memorable, and what’s in store for 2014?

A. | Last year, we were able to rebuild the boardwalk at the north end of the beach. We have provided money for projects for the preservation of Atalaya, and in fact, a lot of the windows have been replaced with glass; there was Plexiglas in some of them, so they have been replaced and reglazed.

The boardwalk was a big one; that went on for several months. That was a real labor of love between park maintenance staff and people from the Friends who were able to help. ...

We do what we can financially, and we’ll provide volunteer assistance. That’s really our function: We’re there to help the park. Any funds that we get from a fundraiser or from donations ... all go right back into the park projects of some kind. ...

We have regular activities we participate in, such as the “Coastal Birding” program, tours of Atalaya, and the “Alligators” program, and we help staff the visitor center and the nature center, and we do cleanup.

Q. | What has been your favorite sighting at the park, with its causeway leading to a world of wildlife?

A. | With the birds, I have a favorite one: roseate spoonbills. They’re beautiful and fun to watch. ... And I like the beauty of Atalaya. We have been there to set up for programs just when the sun’s coming up from the ocean. To see that sunlight coming through the brickwork, it’s just awesome. ...

It’s really like a little slice of heaven, sort of a little treasure trove we have down here.

Contact STEVE PALISIN at 444-1764.

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