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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!