Home » Venture back in time at Atalaya Castle

Venture back in time at Atalaya Castle

by Ana Eastep

by Gina Gallucci-White 

The United States is a relatively young country and doesn’t have much of the historic architecture of older nations, such as castles (excluding Disney World and Disneyland).


There is one real castle, located in South Carolina that is a must see. Atalaya Castle was built between 1931 and 1933 by New York City philanthropist Archer Huntington and his wife, Anna. Used as their winter home after Anna contracted tuberculosis, the castle was designed by Huntington using a combination of his imagination as well as Spanish and Moorish architecture. In 1984, the castle was named to the National Register of Historic Places.


Atalaya translates to “watchtower” in Spanish. Its courtyard features a 40-foot water tower, which was the inspiration for the castle’s name. Among the 30 rooms, the couple used some spaces for Anna to create art. On its thousands of acres, is the United States’ first public sculpture garden known as Brookgreen Gardens.


During World War II, the couple allowed the U.S. Air Corps to use their home as a barracks. The Huntingtons returned one year after the war ended. In 1960, the castle as well as gardens (totaling 2,500 acres) were leased for free to the state of South Carolina to form Huntington Beach State Park. 

The site has become a popular venue for weddings and special events and hosts an annual arts and crafts festival featuring more than 100 vendors each September. Note: though dogs are allowed in the park they are not permitted on the castle grounds.

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