Beach Week: PI’s Historic District

Crab dock at Pawleys Island, SC

In every walk in nature, one receives more than he seeks.

John Muir

A week at Pawleys Island, South Carolina, wouldn’t be complete without one or more early morning walks. Since we stay in what’s called the Bird’s Nest on the South End, a walk in the historic district begins right around the corner from us along Atlantic Avenue.

Dock with kayak, Pawleys Island SC
A lone kayaker paddles the creek at Pawleys.

On one side of the street, the marsh at Pawleys offers something extra: crab docks in the creek, some reachable only by way of far-reaching boardwalks. Most docks are private, so taking pictures requires that I stand on the side of the road and look longingly into peaceful waters where herons fly over and early-morning kayakers paddle slowly to enjoy the view.

Long boardwalk to crab dock, Pawleys Island SC
A long boardwalk extends into the creek at Pawleys.

I listen to the hum of insects and watch tiny crabs scurry along mud banks as they dip in and out cautiously but quickly while I stand still and watch the morning unfold.

Ready for catching crabs at the dock

It’s the peace that brings me back year after year: nature’s quiet sounds before sun-up, before the onslaught of beachgoers pulling in to set up tents on the ocean side.

Historic District sign, Pawleys Island SC

On the other side of the street, I look longingly and lovingly at beach homes in the Historic District. These second- and third-generation homes, some built in the 1700’s, give Pawleys the distinction of being America’s oldest seaside resort. Today, newer houses take the place of old ones, some irreparably damaged by Hurricane Hugo (September 1989), but the blend of old and new helps Pawleys maintain its “arrogantly shabby” status.

In 2012, Liberty Lodge, for example, celebrated ownership by the same family for over 100 years. Additionally, the lodge is said to be the home of the inventor of the Pawleys Island Rope Hammock, and you can still purchase these hammocks and have them shipped to your house at The Original Hammock Shop in “downtown” Pawleys!

Liberty Lodge, Pawleys Island SC
Liberty Lodge, Pawleys Island, SC

The LaBruce/Lemon House built on 10 acres of land in 1848 was originally owned by the LaBruce family, successful rice planters in the area. According to a historic marker on site, “two small dwellings on the property were slave cabins,” but I can’t verify which two since I avoid trespassing if at all possible! In 1952, the Lemons of Barnwell, SC purchased the properties and currently lease some of them as summer rentals.

My walk takes me past houses, possibly owned by year-long residents, with beautifully landscaped lawns, at least on the street side. Typical of this area, you can see live oak trees with their long, far-reaching branches as well as plants that can stand the summer heat.

Live oaks and southern plantings, Pawleys Island SC

At the edge of the historic district stands one of the original houses remaining on the island — the Pelican Inn built in the 1840s as a summer home for Plowden Charles Jenrette Wedston of Hagley Plantation. According to the Pelican’s website, “the structure is representative of the majority of the island’s original houses, which were commonly made with cypress lumber, wooden pegs, mortise and tenon joints, and hand cut nails.” The Pelican’s whole space — eight rooms — is available for rent by groups only.

Pelican Inn, Pawleys Island SC
Front porch of the Pelican Inn, Pawleys Island Historic District

My walk ends as I pass one of my all-time favorite homes on Pawleys, Maurice Cottage. This low-country house with its wide wrap-around porch, black shutters, and sideways stance to catch the ocean breeze is one I look for and photograph every summer. It reminds me of what Pawleys used to be — a summer home for owners of nearby rice plantations who needed an escape for fishing, shelling, and family time together.

Maurice Cottage, Pawleys Island SC
Maurice Cottage — South End, Pawleys Island Historic District

And for one week every summer, Pawleys is our home as well!

Your part-time beach dweller,


Congratulations to Pawleys Island, named #9 in the list of “25 Best Beaches in the U. S. in 2020” by TripAdvisor!

12 thoughts on “Beach Week: PI’s Historic District

  1. We Travel Happy

    I love love love the pictures Rusha especially the first three. I would love to go that place. Oh so that white bird is a heron. I learned something new today. Thank you! Birds fascinate me. Last week, I saw 2 hornbills on a tree outside my window and the other day a Singapore white-bellied eagle. 🙂

    1. Oh, the Places We See

      I love that one as well. It’s one of the marsh docks that was twisted in a spring storm. The bird doesn’t seem to mind, however! Pawleys’ history is an important factor, one that makes it interesting to visit there but also gives color and flavor to this beach. I love that all houses aren’t the same, and there’s a mix of new and old. Thanks so much for taking a look at my favorite beach!

  2. Green Global Trek

    This looks so blissful. Love the photos and the evocative quality to them. The boardwalk photo is beautiful and I really like the one of Pelican Inn and as well the last one of Maurice cottage. Perfect.


    1. Oh, the Places We See

      Someday, I’d like to rent a house on the ocean that also has a creek dock behind it. That would be a dream come true! Then I could see sunrises on the beach, sunsets over the marsh. Ooooohhhh.

    1. Oh, the Places We See

      It’s an interesting place since there’s a creek in addition to the beach. Adds a lot to the scenery. I wish I had a better lens to capture the birds in the marsh, but I don’t. Since I didn’t have permission to use a dock, I had to stand in the road and try. Oh well. Someday.

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