Archive for December 2015

Merry Christmas 2015

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…from New Orleans, Louisiana.   St. Louis Cathedral, Jackson Square, in the French Quarter

Written by Jim

December 24, 2015 at 4:39 pm


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Come to the silver gardens of the South,
Where whisper hath her monarchy, and winds
Deftly devise live tapestries of shade,
In glades of stillness patterned,
And where the red-bird like a sanguine stain,
Brings Tragedy to Beauty.

~ from The Silver Gardens by Archer Milton Huntington


Two weeks ago…I had to get away. I easily forget how near the ocean is, so I packed a bag and drove to the coast…to spend the weekend on the Grand Strand of South Carolina. It’s the off season in Myrtle Beach, so the crowds have diminished and hotel rooms are plentiful…and reasonably priced. I needed to spend some time conversing with the sea…and I obtained an excellent vantage point…a room on the twelfth floor of the Bay View Resort, with a balcony overlooking the wide expanse of the Atlantic. I could breathe again as I sat in the chill November air…peering into emptiness from my watchtower. The gloaming soon turned to darkness.

Then, rising early the next day, I was witness to a miracle. My watchtower had revolved through space…and through the night while I slept…to once again meet up with the sun…to begin a new conversation.


After a while…after a long silence that helped clear my mind in preparation for the day, I made my way south along the coast about thirty minutes or so…to Atalaya…another watchtower. In fact, Atalaya means watchtower in Spanish. This castle on the coast was the winter home of Archer Huntington and his wife Anna Hyatt Huntington. It was designed by Archer himself, in a style reminiscent of Moorish architecture he had seen in Spain. Archer was a fabulously wealthy industrialist, and his wife Anna, a world-renowned sculptor (Oddly enough, I discovered that Anna’s last major work was a bronze statue of Andrew Jackson that is located in Andrew Jackson State Park, a few miles from where I live).


When I arrived at Atalaya, which is now part of Huntington Beach State Park, I checked in with the docent, who provided a map that would lead me on a self-guided tour of the structure. It’s really just an empty shell now, but while walking through the 30 or so rooms that encircle the inner courtyard, I could still sense the presence of the extraordinary couple who had lived there in solitude (along with their many servants), with only the wild Atlantic as their neighbor. When I finished my tour, I returned my map. The docent quizzed me…”Did you find the guest room?”, he asked. Hmmm…I thought hard…returning to each empty room in my mind. Then we both blurted out at the same time…”There is no guest room.” Archer and Anna valued their privacy, and while they often had guests during the day, they would pack them up and send them on their way by nightfall.

My next stop was just across the highway from Atalaya…Brookgreen Gardens, a botanical and sculpture garden designed by Archer and Anna. There is also a wildlife preserve on this expansive tract of land that lies between the Waccamaw River and the Atlantic Ocean.

Archer and Anna

I spent a few hours walking the many paths in this garden that was originally designed to showcase the work of Anna Hyatt Huntington. My favorite sculpture, however, was that of Laura Gardin Fraser…The Pegasus. It depicts Inspiration taking flight upon the wings of Pegasus. It lifted my spirits as I imagined it soaring into the perfectly blue Carolina sky.